Sunday 31 March 2024

An adventure in split Ep's! I have no gun but I can split: PISSCHRÏST / FRAMTID "Hardcore Detonation Attack" split Ep, 2009

This will be the last Ep from the 00's to be included in this series which you hopefully enjoy, at least enough to warrant a decent read while on the toilet. Since I haven't decided on the - certainly smaller - selection for the following decade (the dreaded 10's) there will be some wait before the next installment, especially since I am fucking off on tour in April. Yes, I am THAT cool a punk.

Let's end the transitional era of the 00's with something of a classic record from 2009: the Hardcore Detonation Attack split Ep between Melbourne's Pisschrïst and Osaka's Framtid, two rather well-known and respected bands that I haven't covered yet (beside a short paragraph about the latter for their inclusion on the Chaos of Destruction 2 compilation). How long do you have to wait to be officially crowned as a "classic hardcore record" by the Higher Punk Council? It is difficult to say and it really depends on what you mean with "classic". Timelessness is very often narrowly construed and distorted in order to make a work of art somehow fit in and yet transcend at the same time a mythical and mystical post-chronological "time". The notion of a "timeless classic" is therefore meaningless and, more dangerous, it can deprive a work of its meaning (I suppose "time-free" would be more correct albeit as pointless). What we need to think about are classics that are inherently rooted in proper time and space not in an abstract dimension. Does such intellectual brilliance on my part keep people from claiming online that their favourite record of the month is a "classic"? No but it should. Wankers.

Because of its relevance in terms of what used to be before, what was at the time and what would come after, I think this record is indeed a 00's Swedish-styled hardcore classic. Is 15 years a long enough period to be able to look back peacefully at a punk record? Probably and for the sake of this review, let's at least pretend it is. It's certainly been a long enough for me to lose a decent part of my once chivalrous hair.

This Ep was Pisschrïst's last record. The band was a pretty big deal at the time and if I unfortunately never got to see them live (despite two European tours), the reports were unanimous: they were an absolute powerhouse. But I have to admit their records did not totally win me over back then, even though they were getting some airplay and, on a strictly philosophical level, I understood the band's appeal. I mean, they played intense and hard-hitting käng with gruff vocals and a rocking side and their prolificacy reflected their staunch determination: one demo, two albums and five Ep's (three of them splits with Appäratus, Kvoteringen and of course Framtid) between 2004 and 2010. Talking with my wonderful partner about the band's legacy and the reasons why they were so beloved then she pointed out that, at the time, few bands outside Sweden, or to a lesser extent to a then more obscure Japan, played that kind of relentless high-energy riff-driven epic Swedish hardcore with crazy tempos changes. You had of course quite a few bands doing the Wolfpack/Wolfbrigade heavy metallic hardcore thing (like Guided Cradle for instance) but Pisschrïst were different and relied more on the great riff tradition of Totalitär and the relentlessness of Framtid and there just wasn't many bands around at the time that were influenced by those schools of käng. You have to look at Pisschrïst from the 00's perspective to understand their appeal. Nowadays, there are many bands working with the same main ingredients, namely Totalitär-like hardcore and Framtid's take on käng, but not at the time. 

And let's not forget that they were from Melbourne and we did not (or at least I didn't) know that many Australian bands (beside Schifosi, The Collapse and ABC Weapons, a band that had Tim and Yeap from Pisschrïst) but you could sense that something was happening and the band quickly became the embodiment of that new Distort Melbourne scene whose legacy is still going strong today. Talk about a significant band. In addition, Yeap had lyrics in English but also in Malay which was something of a novelty and a breath of fresh air as well. He used to play in Mass Separation back in Malaysia and they did have lyrics in Malay but their popularity was mostly circumscribed to the grindcore scene (I could be wrong though, they did have a split with Kontrovers after all, so it could be relative). The status of Pisschrïst was bigger, they had records on Yellow Dog, then an important label. They also allowed people to discover Appäratus through a split Ep - these days a fairly established scandicore band but back then an unknown Kuala Lumpur act - and by extension it made me curious and drove me to investigate further the great noize that was being made in places like Malaysia, Indonesia or Singapore in the 00's. So on the whole, I think that is what makes Pisschrïst a "classic band". It was not just the music. 

The three songs on this Ep are, by far, my favourite. The band sounds absolutely unstoppable and relentless here and never has their dynamite blend of Totalitär and Framtid sounded so ferocious. The production is rawer, closer to what noizy Osaka bands thrived on, and really highlights the drummer's frantic style full of rolls and crazy changes and the raging vocals. This is close to perfection and one can only imagine how insane a full album of Pisschrïst with that particular production would have sounded like. After the band folded, Yeap would keep playing in solid noizy bands like Krömozom, Nuclear Sex Addict or the well-respected and very active Enzyme and started to run the very good label Hardcore Victim. A busy man. As for Tim he played in the Aussie version of Nuclear Death Terror, ExtinctExist and Jalang.

On the other side of the split, you've got three songs from the almighty supreme Framtid, a band that has, without a shadow of a doubt, earned its reputation as a "classic band" in every sense of the word. The band is rightly revered and their name almost always accompanied by such adjectives as "intense", "furious" and "deafening". To be able to witness Framtid perform live with their customary ferocity can be considered as one of the five Pillars of the Punk Religion, an obligatory acts of worship for proper believers. 

It is fair to say that the band's popularity and mystique grew with time because more and more people got access to their music and because of their impressive longevity given the genre they have been engaging in since 1997. I first came across them sometime around 2005 thanks to a mate of mine who burnt a cd including several bands I was looking for on it, among which he added Framtid's Under the Ashes (there was still space on the cdr and I suppose he just added the thing thinking it could do no wrong). For some reason, the band did not leave too much of an impression on me at that time, by no means did they sound unpleasing but I think I just liked the other bands on the cd better (as I remember there might have been Hellshock's Shadows of the Afterworld on it which, at the time, was unchallengeable anyway). Beside Framtid were at the very end of a cd that was already packed with hard-hitting stuff and the position does affect a first listen's appreciation. I should also point out that I was not really that much into Japanese hardcore bands in the 00's and mostly indulged in their brand of metal crust more than anything. I missed the first train on this one.

Basically it took a good few years for me to really get and more accurately feel what Framtid were trying to create through maximizing and magnifying the hardest brand of käng in order to turn it into a real native Osaka style: the crasher käng transformation. Yes I have just made it up. But still, it's precisely what Framtid achieved through the use of several elements: the - now iconic - insane and thunderous hectic drumming (curtesy of Takayama who also played in Zoe) in order to amplify the songs' savagery, the trademark Osaka crust guitar distortion of Jackie (from the fantastic Crust War label) and hyperbolic gruff but highly antagonistic vocals. When first confronted with the Framtid's sound, one is quick to think that this is a pummeling hardcore chaos (not a bad thing at all in itself) but it is deceptive because closer attention reveals how in control of this chaos the band is. Their real achievement may lie in this fruitful paradox: they are masters of chaos always on the brink of being overtaken, they occupy that liminal space that makes them so impressive .

Framtid have alway claimed that 80' Swedish bands like Bombanfall, Sound of Disaster, Crude SS and of course Svart Parad (they picked their moniker from a Svart Parad's song, although they did not that framtid means "future" in English, which is lucky, it could have meant "hangover" or something) and this primitive, if not primal, cave käng sound is the basis but as I said they infused it with the Gloom Osaka dementia to create a unique wild untamable beast. The three songs included on the split are classic Framtid, recognizable in a heartbeat. The production may not be as insanely heavy and devastating as on Under the Ashes but it confers a rawer edge which suits the genre and the Ep format. One of the best hardcore band of their generation, no question about it.

This is a great split released on HG Fact with brilliant artwork on both sides, just a great moment of punk music. The title Hardcore Detonation Attack is fitting indeed. 

Hardcore detonation attack!!!

Saturday 23 March 2024

An adventure in split Ep's! I have no gun but I can split: BESTHÖVEN / BETON "Different wars same victims" split Ep 2009

I did not realize how long Besthöven's discography was until I started writing this Pulitzer-level masterpiece. I was of course aware of the band's fecundity (it could more accurately be referred to as "a solo project", although Fofäo dislikes the term, or oxymoronically as "a one-man band" but then how do you even define what "a band" really is and what qualifies as one?) but not quite to that extent. I understood that I had not even listened to a lot of Besthöven's body of work. In general, I do check the band's new releases because I often like what I hear and because they are often split records a befitting format for the genre. But then, as you would, I get lost in that endless maze of new d-beat and käng bands that bandcamp and youtube have turned into and end up almost overdosing on war songs, cheap solos and studded jackets and basically quickly forget about what I have just heard, like a goldfish. But I suppose that's pretty much what modern kids have to deal with: fighting the desire to indulge in an infinite supply of cultural distractions in order to keep a shred of attention span. It is, like finding love without using cheesy filters for your profile picture, a losing a battle in 2024. 

It seemed fair to include a Besthöven work in this series since Fofäo (the obsessive Doctor Frankenstein to this monstrous project) has been contributing his limitless enthusiasm - bordering on the maniacal - for primitive d-beat raw punk (aka the "DIS-CIMEX style") to many shared records. With bands like Disclose (an achievement in itself), Warvictims or Disease. Or indeed with Beton. The format fits the music to a tee. Besthöven's story is quite fascinating and inspiring. It started as your usual noisy punk band in the early 90's but turned into a very prolific one-man affair in 1994 (Agitate did an interview with the man in 2006 that you can read here) which is pretty impressive indeed given the rather strict template Besthöven works on. Depending on your philosophical stance on dis-music, you will see the task as either piss easy because you consider that it's always the same song anyway ("who cares if you already used the very same riff 27 times, it has always worked and it's not like you have a demanding audience") or as very challenging since it is difficult to do the same thing on an on again without losing the passion, dedication and a sense of inspiration. If anything, Besthöven and its longevity, whether you like and rate the music or not, is an undying testimony to the validity and relevance of d-beat and käng as genre and aesthetics and an affirmation that it can be an actual way of life. Still bollox but still here.

This is not to say that all Besthöven records are exactly alike but Fofäo's work ethics have not changed: the goal is to produce raw and unrefined hardcore punk. The influence of Anti-Cimex always prevails of course but most of the 80's Swedish hardcore bands are invited to the table and in recent years I sense that Disarm and Avskum were regular guests especially with Fofäo's very distinctive vocals. What I love about them is that they are shouted and angry, respect the obligatory flow and prosody but still maintain some rough-hewn tunefulness like in the two aforementioned käng classics (Avskum's Gunnar is the master of such a vocal style) adding some gruff melodies and, dare I say, emotions. It's not as brutal vocally as what you could expect but I always felt Besthöven's approach was the right one in this case and it makes the band easily recognizable. 

The three songs on this split Ep are typical of what Besthöven do on a good day which is exactly what you want. Straight-forward and raw galloping d-beat käng with a purity and an orthodoxy that is both admirable and a little scary. I get a 90's dis-vibe on this one, there is a lot of Disclose-meets-Diskonto-at-an-Avskum-karaoke-night here here more of an 80's. It's difficult to call yourself a fan of the D if you don't own at least a couple of Besthöven records and many are fairly to find.

On the other side, two songs of Beton (meaning "concrete" just like in French for once) from Bratislava await the listener. To be quite honest, I mostly grabbed this split Ep for Beton (although I am always up for some Besthöven) as I am a bit of a fan of heavy crust punk from Central Europe and they are certainly up there when it comes to delivering groovy Swedish-inspired hardcore heaviness. I would not say I really missed out on the band. When they first came to life in the mid 00's, I remember downloading their 2005 demo on a blog (from crust-demos probably) and being pleasantly surprised. Well, surprised might not be the most accurate term as even though I did not know current bands from Slovakia, there was no reason for the country to be deprived of smelly punks keen on making a crust racket when neighbouring Czech and Poland definitely had their fair share of this strange species that baffle anthropologists to this day. So when I first bumped into Beton, they basically made sense even before I listened to them and because their take on the genre was rather akin to that heavy dark vibe that characterized 90's and 00's crust bands from Central Europe, Beton felt very natural.

Prior to that 00's generations, the one Slovakian band I was significantly aware of was Nonconformist from the Eastern town of Košice. It would be a lie to claim that I am fully conversant with the band's discography - on other occasions it is a lie I would certainly embrace - but their Open Your Eyes Ep from 1994 is a cruelly underrated jewel that fans of female-fronted anarcho crust-punk should revere. Still, despite strong suspicions, I was pretty clueless as what had been and was happening there but the arrival of Beton, Deadissexy (I absolutely loved their demo of cavemen käng crust) and Roxor, whose 2006 demo was an equally convincing heavy crust effort, was pivotal. You had your Slovakian crust Big Three. But then things grew kinda quiet (Beton did release a split Ep with national grinders Čad in 2007 though) and it wasn't until the late 00's/early 10's that Beton and Roxor really started to record and release things. But as I said, caught in the constant flux of novelties, I did not pay enough attention to what they were up to until a few years ago when I took the time to.

When Beton reformed in 2008, they turned into a different animal, more powerful but still feeding on things of the D, more accurately the leaves that one can find on the Scandinus Crustus tree. By that time the band had absorbed three members of the aforementioned Deadissexy and their first endeavour in the studio with that team was devastating indeed. The two songs included on this Ep are perfectly executed examples of what heavy and dark metallic crust-käng should sound like. Use the mean metallic hardcore side of late Anti-Cimex (the song "Konvoj" is actually a tribute to them) and early Wolfbrigade as your dow and the dirty crust vibe of Warcollapse and Mass Genocide Process as your filling and serve warm with a can of lager. The two songs do exactly what they are supposed to do and I love the fact that the production manages to highlight the heaviness and the raw aggression as well. Of course the choice to sing in their mother language also adds to convey the dark anger permeating the songwriting. A really good job.

Both bands are still going, Besthöven doing what Besthöven do and Beton evolving into something more metal-oriented. This was as collaboration between several labels: the local Totalitarianism Still Continues, I Feel Good (from Britanny!), Rabia Contra el Sistema from Spain and Dist & Confuzed from Sweden.   

Friday 8 March 2024

An adventure in split Ep's! I have no gun but I can split: DEATHTRIBE / KRIEGSHÖG "3 Track EP Plus Support / 警告" split Ep, 2008

This split between Deathtribe and Kriegshög can be rightly considered, from a commoner's perspective, as the sonic equivalent of a bollocking of the highest magnitude on the official scientific scale (based on loudness of the riffs, aggression of the vocal delivery and sense of dread before the wall of noise), the kind of bollocking that will be remembered for generations to come. If you sold you mum's one good ring to a neighbour always rumoured to be "up to no good" in order to buy the last Fifa video game, you'd get a similarly massive bollocking. Long after you are dead, mothers will be likely to warn their kids about the mythical bollocking that their great granduncle Punky, since then referred to as "the Ungrateful One" once received when he betrayed his saint of a mother for a game that had Cristiano Ronaldo on the cover. You can imagine how intense and furious this one would be. This record can be said to possess very similar traits: it is an inherently punishing record. 

Not that it would work on me, I love that shit. I don't feel punished but blessed whenever I play a well-executed band of this style of noizy hardcore. If I have had a bad week and I am just trying to vent and let off steam, that's the kind of assault I shall unleash on my eardrums. From an outsider's perspective I suppose you could say that I love to be bollocked sonically so much that I basically no longer realize it and have grown fond of it like a masochist (distorted Japanese hardcore becoming just an example of the Stockholm Syndrome applied to music). On the contrary, mainstream music that is deemed unanimously good or "classic" (which almost always means it is utter garbage) will offend and sadden me. Make me seat through a Billie Eilish album or through my nephew's Tik Tok feed for more than 10 minutes and tears will be rolling down my face. It does make one shiver. What soothes some will torture others. I am a bit of a philosopher I guess.

Funnily enough - and tragically enough - I was late to the Kriegshög party and pretty much ignored the band's early records when they came out in the late 00's because, beside bands like Disclose or Atrocious Madness, I just did not really care that much for that sort of sound then and merely observed it from afar on message boards. Truth be told, the genre was not as popular as it seems to be nowadays (with music streaming and everything) and I often saw it as being the realms of "nerds" and "record collectors", two terms that I used pejoratively to express my disapproval of the commodification and elitism of punk. The irony is not lost on me today. You really cannot cheat karma, can you? Even after I started to seriously get into the whole Japanese noise hardcore crust aesthetics, Kriegshög were not a band I paid that much attention to until I could no longer stand listening to my friends rave over and over again about the band's live performance in London in 2016 and gave Kriegshög an educated listen. I understood that I had missed out on a good band and, obviously, a good gig. I managed to grab a copy of their Hardcore Hell Ep the following year and found this split with Deathtribe shortly afterwards, about ten years after its release. As I said, the ship had sailed for a while. 

But let's get to the actual record and with the A side where you'll find three songs from Deathtribe. Even by nerd's standards, the band is rather obscure and did not exactly leave an eternal mark on the Japanese hardcore scene. Hailing from Tokyo like Kriegshög, Deathtribe were quite short-lived and beside this Ep, only released a tape Ep in 2007, Nothing Your Leader, which was the first release of the brilliant and still active label Hardcore Survives, and they also appeared on the good compilation Lp Hardcore Inferno in 2010 alongside bands like Disturd, Death Dust Extractor or Isterismo. The tape was a sweet affair with six songs of distorted hardcore crust done the traditional Japanese way, with intensity, conviction and distortion, not unlike Contrast Attitude but on a budget. The three songs on this split Ep enjoyed a much better production and I love how bass heavy it sounds and the gruff Makino-like vocals. 

"Sound of silence" and "Zouo" (a Kriegshög cover) are typical fast and groovy gruff Japanese crusty crasher hardcore that reminds me of a blend of Framtid - but not as Swedish influenced - and Contrast Attitude - but not as crasher crusty - with chorus reminiscent of traditional Japanese hardcore. The comparison is somewhat daring because Deathtribe don't quite reach the level of these two heavyweights but they still seriously deliver and who knows what they could have achieved given the chance to record more. The third song "In many nightmare" is something of an oddity and does not fit with the rest as it sounds nothing like the two others. It's basically a very well done '83 Discharge number à la Warning and The Price of Silence with an impressive Cal impersonation. Final Bloodbath also had a number like this and Final Bombs basically made a career playing the bad Discharge period so it would not have been an exception in Japan. I actually like the song, it is a brilliant Discharge-loving mid-paced moment but, like a skinhead at a Carcass show, I don't really understand what it's doing here.

On the other side, Kriegshög also delivered three songs, among which a cover from Deathtribe, "The end" (the original appeared on the tape). In their early days, back when they had their first guitar player Tera, more inclined toward distortion, Kriegshög sounded absolutely unstoppable, like the proverbial enormous door slamming in the depths of hell or the average American in the soda aisle. Their first Ep Hardcore Hell was quite the hit when it came out in 2008 and the reviews it got were, as they say, unanimous. It is a strong Ep, by any standards, but I am under the retrospective impression that it got more praises than you would generally expect for the genre especially for a record released on a new label like Hardcore Survives, or at least that it got more praises from sectors of the hardcore punk scene usually unresponsive to a perfectly fine pair of mummified crust pants than your usual crasher crust record. 

Kriegshög quickly became a rather well-known band (well, everything is relative, innit) thanks to the well-established label La Vida Es Un Mus that released three records for them and therefore gave them more exposition, notably their first album in 2010. Still, a lot of people who were crazy about them did not seem to care much for other 00's bands working on similar grounds like Defector or Deceiving Society or even Contrast Attitude indeed who were intrinsically associated with the pure crasher crust world of studs, biker boots and bad breath (aka the Crust War multiverse) while Kriegshög, through their connection to LVEUM, belonged to a more diverse hardcore punk world. Out of the crust ghetto, so to speak. An interesting case.

This Ep was the band's third recording after Hardcore Hell on Hardcore Survives and their split Ep with Dog Soldier (a band I have always liked) on HG Fact and as expected it saw Kriegshög at their most furious and relentless. They are close to crasher crust perfection here, this is a tornado of distorted hardcore with abrasive shouted angry almost painful vocals and plenty of gratuitous Japanese-style demented yells. The bass sounds absolutely massive and I am sure it would make the floor shake, the drumming is tight and relentless like a shower of vengeful meteorites and the guitar, well, distorted but the riffing is clear still discernible for maximum power. You probably already know what the subgenre is about, what the template usually is and what the audience is entitled to expect (or fear depending on your taste) and Kriegshög are at the level of bands like Contrast Attitude, Frigöra or Framtid here.

Kriegshög is probably the better band here but both sides are very good and hold up very well, not so easy when the style is so similar. Both sides were recorded by Shige at the noiseroom which accounts for the ideal "blown-out" vibe. A very enjoyable record if you like savage Japanese crust but a very tedious listen and just a plain bad time if you do not. After an album built on the same foundations, Kriegshög would release two more records with a different sound cruelly lacking in intensity and aggression, two essential ingredients for the genre. This split Ep was released on the poetically named label In Crust We Thrash that released Disaster's War Cry on cd (already reviewed here on this blog). I though the label was dead but it actually just Private Jesus Detector's rather good new album so who knows what the future holds.


Wednesday 28 February 2024

Adventure in split Ep's! I have no gun but I can split: DYSPNEA / NAKOT "S/t" split Ep, 2007

This is a record I actually bought fairly recently, out of nowhere really, at a local punk gig that had rather melodic bands on the bill. I always check out record stands in case something decent got lost in the midst of all the usual crap (or fast food punk as I wittily call it) and, as the night proved it, you never know what you are going to come across. To find this Ep, 17 years after its release, was unlikely and I imagine it had been sleeping in the box since it came out after a record trade. It might seem curious but then some distros have been sleeping for ages and only see the light day every three years or so and beside the genre that Dyspnea and Nakot engaged in not being really popular in France it is not all that surprising. It has to be said that some of this split's jail mates - some of which had been doing time in the box for well over twenty years - were bound however to remain buried there for eternity. Still you've got to love sleeping distros, they're always a fun, albeit frightening at times, trip into the past that will have you reminisce about bands that should not be reminisced about sometimes. Who needs to remember third rate Ekkaia wannabes?

I vaguely remembered Dyspnea as being "kinda neocrusty" but my memory of Nakot was much more accurate, or rather I remembered accurately quite liking Nakot even though I had not played their split with the brilliant Дажд/Dažd (a cruelly underrated band whose first album I rate very highly) for a while. So when I bumped into this great-looking humble record for a mere three euros, I didn't mess about and grabbed it. I saw surprise but also gratefulness in the eyes of the bloke running this tiny distro. Mind you, this Ep may have traveled more than me. The context of the release of this Ep was quite specific as it showcased two contemporary, modern, young bands from the Balkans which was not so common at the time, especially from my perspective as I still did not know much about the Greek scene (about which I have written extensively) and even less about bands from Yugoslavia. As I recall it, this collaboration between Dyspnea and Nakot excited my curiosity because I had not quite figured out yet that the classic 00's crust/d-beat/scandi sound had reached the Balkans. No, as you can see, I haven't always been the quickest kid on the block.

It strikes me as a little strange that Dyspnea, from Tyrnavos, almost always slips my mind when I reflect upon the Greek crust mythology, an activity I engage in often, deeply and with statuesque intensity. Still, I know I must have come across the name right when the band started through the then active blog scene of the late 00's, quite possibly thanks to Crustcracker or Crust Demos (the latter surviving until 2020), two blogs that were run by punks from Greece that I checked regularly and focused on obscure contemporary international bands of the fast and punishing variety. Those, among others, were great sources of information and inspiration as it reinforced the idea that punk was an unstoppable DIY international movement and that youthful talentless people from all over the world, be they from Chile, Indonesia or Slovenia, could also try to sound like Discharge or Doom and that's the real beauty of punk-rock, what unites us all. 

But to get back at Dyspnea they always stood for that time and the discovery process attached to it in my mind, they epitomised the type of bands that I would get to know through a blog: pretty local, pretty raw and pretty typical of the era (three criteria that are in no way bad things). I used to download a lot of music from these blogs (and I still do download a lot of music) and I loved the fact that they often promoted bands that were local to them. This recording is pretty raw, if not rough, even by 00's standards and if I did not know better (or if I could not read) I would have thought that they had been around in the early 90's rather than the late 00's. In any case Dyspnea cannot be described as being "neocrust", although they do have the odd melodic leads, an intensely dark vibe and a logo that is not dissimilar to Tragedy's (but you get five eagles instead of just one, it's a bargain). The vibe is dark, very dark, anguished even and the low gruff vocals sound pretty desperate indeed. Of course the Greek language works brilliantly with this kind of atmosphere (only the first song "Βολικοί Στη Σιωπή" is sung in Greek though, the other one is in English). The first number unleashes raw, bleak, fast crustcore with a slow-paced metallic break toward the end while the second is a groovy mid-paced one with a filthy tone and a singer sounding like he uses uranium as mouth wash. Beside ace Greek old-school metal crust bands like Ανθρώπινος-Λήθαργος or Βιομηχανική Αυτοκτονία, it reminds me of Czech gruff crust bands like Mass Genocide Process and neo(ish)crust geniuses Leadershit. Dyspnea would appear years later in 2014 on a split Lp with fellow countrymen Unfit Earth, using the same recipe but with a much cleaner and heavier production. It was well executed but did not have the charm of those two songs. 

On the other side are Nakot from Belgrade, a relatively short-lived band formed in 2005 that is still remembered - as far as I can tell - more for their relevance probably than their music because they stood for a new generation of punks ready to spit in the face of the powers that be in the difficult context of post-war Serbia. I was not aware of many Yugoslavian punk bands at that point in time - I was absolutely clueless about the buoyant scene of the 80's with the Ljubljana hardcore scene and the tons of national postpunk bands - and in fact, apart from Nulla Osta from Pula that played in 2006 in a squat in Paris (a band made even more exotic because they played with two bass guitars, crazy bastards), I would have struggled to name a Yugoslavian punk band. A friend of mine assured me that she had heard Serbian punk tapes so I at least knew the theoretical existence of punk music in that part of the world. But I'm sure a grindcore fan my age would have had a different perspective and vaster knowledge of the scene there because of the sheer number of grind/fastcore bands there. You could say Nakot, along with the aforementioned Dažd and Anaeroba from Slovenia - because their records could be found relatively easily on Western distro tables - opened a few doors on that level and expanded my punk multiverse. 

Nakot were also appealing because, to put it quite simply, they played a style I already liked and wore patches similar to mine (I assumed). They were basically a gruff scandicore band, a familiar genre that was accessible, and used typical - albeit drawn brilliantly - visuals with skulls, desolation, suffering and the good old Crass font. It felt like going to see a Serbian relative on vacation. Even if you had never met him, it was still family. Nakot's music on this split Ep was fairly simple, heavy and direct käng hardcore, a little lacking in terms of power because of the production (their next record largely solved this), but still delivering the goods. Picture Hellkrusher and Dread 101 partying hard while listening to Driller Killer. You can tell the band is genuine and they mention that when they sing about war, it comes from experience and is not "punk fetishism". 

Shortly after the release of this split, the remarkable efforts of some dedicated bloggers allowed me to explore the prolific 90's Yugoslavian DIY hardcore punk scene and discover dozens of tapes (they almost always were tapes) from the likes of Krvavi Mandat, S.m.c, Verbalni Delikt, Fight Back, Bad Justice, Intoxicate, Hoću Neću! or Totalni Promasaj. The continuity between those bands and Nakot ten years after made sense but also highlighted how much of a 00's band - sonically and visually - the latter were. It has to be said that the gloomy screen-printed artwork, expertly done by Doomsday Graphics, is one of the record's strongest points in spite of the rather common themes it depicts (but then that's what we are all looking for, right?).

A modest yet interesting record to be sure released on three Greek labels, Alcoholic Desaster, We don't Fight it! and Scarecrow, now a well-established label and record store, of whom it was the very first release.       

Dyspnea vs Nakot

Saturday 17 February 2024

An adventure in split Ep's! I have no gun but I can split: GLOBAL HOLOCAUST / MASSGRAVE "Revenge" split Ep, 2006

I recently listened to Hard Skin's song "Not messing around", a banger telling the story of a proper skinhead, quite likely a supporter of Millwall FC who is faithful to the traditional way of life. Most of all it's about a simple man who strives to live his better life and if it must include dancing the tango and the foxtrot, drinking whisky instead of bitter, then so be it. Once a bootboy always a bootboy as the saying goes. Inspiring shit indeed. Working-class heroes ain't messing around and if this song doesn't motivate you to get off your fat arse, what will? 

Do you know who else are not messing around? Global Holocaust and Massgrave, that's who. While the latter have made a name for themselves since their inception in 2003, the former has largely remained a band that would be best defined, as Mel Brooks put it, as a world-famous band in their home country. Local "legends" I guess. I first heard of GH through the Montreal Crust-Fucks compilation cd. It would have been released in 1999 or 2000 (the band Oppressed Conscience mentioned John Paul 2nd's 2000 speech in which he apologized for the heinous crimes of the Church - it was a bit late for that mate) and I remember ordering it from a distro called React that was active in the 90's and 00's and had a lot of pretty obscure noisy delicacies from all over the world. To be honest, I picked that one because it was cheap, everything seemed to be on this distro, and I was curious about Montreal crust bands - I only knew Hellbound and After the Bombs which I both loved - and the compilation, with its rather transparent title, promised just that. It is a fun record, still crusty but with some diversity, and along with Disagree (the best band here), GH definitely won me over. 

After a quick research I understood GH were pioneers and had been rather crucial in the making of the Montreal crust scene (assuming the very term "scene" is relevant to refer to 30 people). It's fair to say that the name and the vintage crustier-than-thou font give the genre away. They formed as early as 1989 which made them a second-generation crustcore band although they arsed around in the studio for a while because their first recording, the demo tape Hope?, was only released in 1993. From 1995 to 1999 they certainly made up for lost time, or started drinking more reasonablu, and no less than six Ep's, among which four splits with fellow Montreal bands Oppressed Conscience, Obnoxious Race and Urban Trash and another Québec-based band Fierce. 

During the 90's GH enjoyed a stable lineup with Simon, on drums, being a tireless musician (he also played in Préjudice, Disjonction and three of the aforementioned bands GH did splits with) and running Tobacco Shit Records that released most of GH's records and other Canadian bands. Sonically they were in line with the decade had to offer as far as the genre was concerned: gruff crustcore with a thrashing grindcore influence like Destroy! dating Toxic Bonkers at a Fleas & Live gig. One of the strongest points, if not the strongest, was Fred's vocals, instantly recognizable, that able to sound raucous and coarse but also very pissed and discernible, on the verge of dementia. Really good work here. The band then stopped in 1996 after being "banned in the city" whatever that means. I could not find any details about this ban. Did it involve some of rioting that ended up with police forbidding them to play in Montreal? That'd be legendary so I guess we would be able to find stories about it online. Were they just kicked out after a particularly poor gig? If you know the full story, let me know and I'll add the thing here.

The band reformed in 2006 with a new guitar player and let's get real: they did not change much. The grindcore moments were pretty much gone but in terms of production and textures, the two songs on this split Ep could have been recorded in 1996, as if time had had no effect on these thick-skinned crusties. We're still heavily in thrashing crustcore land and I am reminded of Brazilian thrashing hardcore legend Armagedom. Simple and rather good, I think the split Ep format fits the band very well here. GH would released another split Ep with Dehumanizer Earth the same year and a full Ep in 2008 with seven (!) different covers, six of which being (loving) rip-offs of other bands like Antischism, DS-13 or Tragedy. Granted those were very limited pressings but that cracked me up. You've got to love punks with a cheeky sense of humour.

On the other side the listener is treated with three songs from the mighty Massgrave from Vancouver (not to be confused with the short-lived but excellent Japanese Massgrave). I am not sure it would be correct to claim that MG were ever a trendy or a high-profile band (on the punk scale being a high-profile act means to have a queue of at least seven people at the merch table, it's simple maths really) but they have clearly become an established band and even people who are not into crust or grindcore (also known as posers) are at least a little familiar with them (if not with the actual music at least with how much they stand for the genre). They have been one of the very few contemporary bands to be able to totally appeal to both crust and grind crowds. Depending on the size of your town, there may not be a difference between these crowds. Actually in small towns everybody go to "the punk gig" whether they are into metalcore, melodic punk or neocrust because it would be pointless to form silly little scenes. But in bigger places where silliness is key, as far as I can see, a division has grown and solidified between the d-beat/crust audience and the full-on grindcore one. It's the case even in Paris, a town that has never been famous for either genres (that's an understatement, we're infested by oi music) that don't draw many people anyway unless you bring a bigger name. But MS are something of an exception in the sense that they are a solid DIY punk band, first and foremost, playing music that not only appeals to more but also, as an openly political band, avoids the tastelessness and stupidity that too many grindcore bands intentionally embrace. They are basically a good band with a delicately hairy font.

I first heard about them when a good friend of mine ages ago, far more into grindcore than I ever will be, mentioned that Stormcrow would appear on a split Lp with Massgrave to be released soon on Agipunk. Not being aware of the existence of said band, I proceeded to ask about their identity. He described them as "kinda like Disrupt or State of Fear but more manic and with more blast beats, even " and he was quite right. He then added that "even someone with shit tastes like you should enjoy it" which somehow negatively impacted the discovery. Oh well. By 2006 MG had already released two albums, a split cd with Neckbeerd (that involved a member of MG) and a strong full album entitled ...People are the Problem, and four Ep's, three of them being, in true DIY grindcore fashion split records with Warfair?, Pretty Little Flowers and Poser Disposer (I like the name of that one and the spoof Anti Cimex cover). The three songs on the present split are vintage 00's Massgrave, absolutely furious and relentless grinding cavemen crustcore with dual tradeoff vocals reminiscent of late Disrupt, 3-Way Cum or Deformed Conscience. The band sounds absolutely unstoppable and ferocious here, the production is amazing, powerful in that it relies on the energy and aggression of the songwriting to create that vibe of brutal and angry hardcore punk savagery and still provide significant changes of pace. They were at the top of their early game and this is one of my favourite recordings from the band. Short and sweet to be sure and with a limited amount of blast beats which suits me well. What a slap in the face. 

The vocalists are perfectly complementary and manage to recreate an argument between angry cavemen about who did not watch the fire properly. The riffs are top notch too and show that Sweden was certainly a country that the guitar player looked up to while the very sound and tone of the guitar is quite specific and makes the band easy to recognize. Back when the band started the traditional dual vocals crustcore style was slowly vanishing and it would soon go out of fashion after the mid-00's (Visions of War standing as the immortal heroes of the (sub)subgenre). I would venture that the fact that MG was significantly connected with the grindcore scene (most of their collaborations were with grind bands) that value brutality somehow made it easier for them to develop their specific grinding crust attack and build momentum. I had the opportunity to see them twice (I put on the second gig myself) and I had a blast. 

This record was released on Unrest Records when the label was still in its infancy. Little by little it would become a well-respected label responsible for records from the likes of Disrupt (well, that one made sense), The Accüsed, Driller Killer and even Morus. The main flaw of this Ep is the cover, a little confusing visually and without any reference to the bands included, unless you know the record beforehand, it's not one you would necessarily want to check on the distro table. Let's call this a punk tradition.

Global Grave    

Wednesday 7 February 2024

An adventure in split Ep's! I have no gun but I can split: AGAINST EMPIRE / HOLOKAUST "Threat to Existence / S/t" split Ep, 2004

This Ep is so quintessentially from the noughties that playing it again after some time was a bit like time traveling to a different era altogether when the internet was not completely taken for granted yet and still felt new. At the time being on Myspace was an issue in the scene which shows how far we've gone. This Ep made me realize how much I am, too, from the 00's and how I grew, as a punk and a vaguely promising young man, throughout this decade. In 2000, streetpunk seemed to me like the ultimate way of life, a happy land where you could be happy just by drinking beer "with the boyz", walking a lot on the streets, wearing too many studs and giving the fingers to "the system" and by 2009 I had formed a semiological critique of neocrust and its use of Nature as a personification of purity and of a paradise soon-to-be-lost to man-made industrialism, very much like 19th century romantics used to do (yes I was already a sad bastard) and I was patronizing enough to look down on people who had no knowledge of Philippine punk too. An exhilarating bildungsroman and a potentially ace biopic indeed. I should talk to my mate Thimotée Chalamet about it, he'd make a smashing me.

I was certainly not late to the party as far as Against Empire and Holokaust were concerned. What I especially liked about those two bands was that, not only were they both relatively new by the time I heard about them, but they were also the members' first bands as far as I knew (let's be kind and not count the Rage Against the Machine cover bands that they probably did in high school). New, fresh and clearly for my generation. I was enthusiastic and had no idea that 20 years later I would be sitting in front of a computer screen reflecting upon the subjective and objective significance of the record. Actually, at the time I had no idea that there would even be a "20 years later" with me in it. I see both AE and Holokaust as being particularly representative of Bush-era anarcho and crust punk, although the latter kept going in the 2010's and are still more or less active as I have seen recent gig poster promoting them. It's true that the rule of Bush Jr covered almost all the decade so that it is tempting to associate 00's bands as Bush-era bands but whenever I hear a 00's political punk bands from the States, the very production reminds me of the president. 

How many bands had radical and highly detailed anti Bush lyrics at that time? It seemed like all the bands had a song directly against the Bush administration, the Patriot Act or the war in Iraq. That thick as shit man was seen as a danger for humanity and to be honest a lot of what is still tragically going in the Middle East are consequences of the man's work. He was the Reagan to our 00's, he outreaganed Reagan, even as a Frenchman I felt like it was my duty to hate the idiot and wish for his beheading, and no one thought that the US would ever get a worse a president. Time proved that punks were not exactly the most clairvoyant bunch, sadly. Paradoxically I cannot really think of an anti-Trump punk song, I am sure there are some but he is clearly not as inspiring in spite of being even more hatable. Let's not depair, I am sure he is going to start new cool American wars by 2025 that will give us the opportunity to write antiwar anthems again. But then, to be quite honest, maybe it's not such a bad thing that there are not too many anti-Trump songs. The bastard is already everywhere (even outside the US of A) so I can understand why US bands would choose to keep his name out of our music. 

I liked AE a lot at the time. I loved the name, I loved the imagery, I loved the lyrics and I kinda wished I had a band like that if you know what I mean. I first heard them through their The One Who Strikes the Blow Forgets... The One Who Bears the Scar Remembers album from 2005 but I  got hold of this split Ep shortly afterwards. I definitely played the Lp a lot when it came out so that I still know all the songs. They have not all aged well and some parts do sound quite dated (or typical of the era if you want to put it nicely) but I don't really mind since, after all, to sound dated is to sound like your time, like you were part of your time and some dated things are very enjoyable. I loved their brand of passionate anarcho metal-crust, they did not belong to the stenchcore revival but still appealed to that crowd and their more melodic, melancholy riffing made them listenable to the then booming neocrust population. I remember people saying that the Lp was overproduced (a criticism usually coming from people used to 90's production or people who collect Japanese records) but compared to a lot of contemporary bands, it is actually a rather direct record and this Ep, the band's first vinyl appearance, is even rawer but just as angry. 

It is a pretty straight-forward affair illustrating what AE were good at: a balanced mix of US-styled anarchopunk and crustcore. At first, the opening song "Empire against environment" sounds like it would be very much at ease with 90's anarchopunk bands like Aus-Rotten and Deprived with its fast-paced angry vocal flow and a blatant Antisect-loving riff but then the band uses a full-on neocrust emotional riff on the chorus which I had completely forgotten (although there were some indeed on the album). I don't think it works that well and I would have wished for a simpler hardcore riff but then such endeavours were common in 2004. The second number is a traditional US crustcore monster with super gruff cavemen vocals (a little too forced maybe?) that owed a lot to bands like Disrupt (of course) or React and also Swedish classics like 3-Way Cum or Warcollapse. A Very good cavecrust effort with a brilliant scandicrust riff. The following AE record would be the aforementioned Lp blending metallic gruff crust with 90's US anarchopunk and some "epicrust" (or something?). A split Lp with Iskra in 2007 followed that saw the band with a different lineup include black-metal influences which did not really impress me (the whole record did not to be honest) and the year after the rather good Destructive Systems Collapse came out with a more dynamic and direct production and a solid 00's crustcore style (the band must have listened to Consume a lot). At that point I started to loose interest in AE for some reason and did not grab the split Ep with Auktion (I did get to see them on their European tour in late 2009 and they were quite good). By the time the second Lp Thieves and Leeches was out in 2011 I was surprised they were still going and I don't think I listened the Lp in its entirety.

Holokaust, from Moreno Valley close to Riverside, is a three-piece orchestra that I listen to more regularly than AE and some of their records I still rate quite highly. I am going to use the present tense as I think the band is more or less active and does play the odd benefit gig and festival. In retrospect the choice of their moniker feels a little odd. If anything, Holokaust is the modern band that epitomizes what Discharge-influenced peacepunk was all about. As a Southern Californian band, they are the direct heirs of this specific 80's tradition and sound popularized by brilliant bands like Diatribe, Body Count and obviously The Iconoclast. I cannot think of many bands that kept that sound alive (intentionally or not, this is not the point) after the 80's beside the mighty Resist and Exist (especially their late 90's period) and the cruelly underrated Armistice, a band I love that I will be writing about in a more or less distant future, both of which were actually already around when the OC crust scene was kicking in. As a recent incarnation of peacepunk, which is pretty specific, you would have thought that Holokaust would have heard of Holocaust, a band from Los Angeles that was around between 1989 and 1992 (we already talked about them here because of their inclusion on the SI One compilation Ep), was highly influenced by Crucifix or Final Conflict and very much part of the late 80's/early 90's peacepunk and peacecrust wave. Holocaust were by no means a high profile act so it was clearly coincidental but it is strange that they were not told by an elder that "it's already taken boys". But then, maybe they were told indeed and just though "fuck it, we'll just replace the "c" with a "k"".

Like AE, I got into Holokaust since the band's inception with their self-titled Ep from 2002, a record that I instantly got into and still love. It is the perfect blend of UK-styled Discharge-loving hardcore punk like '83 Antisect, Anti-System and early Hellkrusher and of traditional Californian peacepunk like The Iconoclast or Diatribe. Great stuff with a very pure old-school production that sounds very natural and not self-aware. Just good old-school pre d-beat Discharge-loving hardcore. The Ep was released on After The Bomb Records the label run by Adam from Masskontroll and Deathcharge (which makes sense). A split with Dissystema followed in 2003 (with a brilliant cover of Anti-System's "Dying in agony") which was poorly distributed in Europe and that I never grabbed and then our present 2004 split record. The basis are similar here with "Holy wars" starting with a metallic Final Conflict-like introduction before offering a classic Anti-System-style (they do love that band a lot and the vocals are quite alike) and "Genocide factor" and "Famine" being stellar early Discharge-loving hardcore like Varukers, The Iconoclast, Antisect, before d-beat was a structured thing. You know what I mean. The production is raw and powerful and I love how impactful the very pure d-beat drumming is in the mix as it confers a proper old-school feel. Holokaust's style sounds very spontaneous as they go for a classic sound in a way that few can achieve. The band went on to record a full Lp, that was unfortunately not as good, and three split Ep's with Wörhorse (not sure when this one came out actually, it could have been before AE's), Rattus and Armistice (that was an obvious one). A fairly quiet but delicious peacepunk band.

This was released on Threat To Existence which I think was a label run by an Against Empire member.  

Against Holokaust 

Wednesday 31 January 2024

An adventure in split Ep's! I have no gun but I can split: SCATHA / THE DAGDA "S/t" split Ep, 2003

Being a little too young to have witnessed Scatha live is one of those regrets I have had for a while, one that will likely never fade although it is clearly not my fault (not like that time I actually gave away for free my copy of Fall of Efrafa's Owsla, a first pressing that costs no less than 100€ today). From what I have read the band was a powerhouse live with a show-stealing drummer. And it doesn't happen that often. There are usually two situations that makes one take a look and notice the drummer during a gig. It's either because he or she is excellent and you just look in awe, enthralled at the magics or because he or she badly fucked up a couple of songs and you're wondering how plastered he or she got before playing. The latter option is pretty easy to spot since the guitar player always turns and looks at the red-faced bellend with serious concern and murder in the eyes while the singer, still facing the audience, desperate tries to maintain some kind of dignity. Oh well. Scatha's drummer belonged to the first category of course. The man is a Celtic octopus.

To be quite honest they were a band I did not quite get at first. Being advertized as having ex-members of Disaffect (I read this on a DIY distro ad promoting the band somewhere), I was expecting some fast punishing hardcore thrash but they were more complex and when I initially bought Birth, Life and Death in 2003 I was basically more than a little... circumspect. I did not dislike it but I was used to much simpler things. It's a bit like eating a chocolate layered vegan cake for the first time after years of stuffing yourself with fake Nutella. It's still chocolate-based but not as straight-forward. It took some time but I eventually did get and grown to love Scatha, which as you will learn in the foldout cover is pronounced "something like sca-huh" (that's punk linguists for you) and is the name of Celtic warrior queen. The crazy tribal rhythmic beats of the music the band used were certainly more challenging than Scatha's imagery and lyrics rooted in Celtic culture. I owned Oi Polloi's Fuaim Catha so I knew that it had nothing to do with the despicable use of Celtic symbols by neo-nazis, dodgy metal bands or my uncle Bob's dreadful tattoos. If anything a band like Scatha did teach me a few things about Celtic culture, belief system and their land-based worldview just like The Casualties taught me that punx and skinz should unite, look good on the streets and get drunk. Who said punk-rock couldn't educational?

The Dagda on the other side were the perfect, the ideal, the obvious counterpart to Scatha. Hailing from Belfast, the band's name refers to a pagan god in traditional Irish celtic mythology often represented with a cauldron and a magical harp. Thankfully the band did not use any of these attributes in their actual music as they did not exactly play experimental trippy hippie music. Just imagine the face of a grumpy sound engineer upon seeing a punk band unloading a fucking harp from their tour van. Priceless. I already knew The Dagda when I bought the split Ep through their excellent Threefold Lp which I listened to a lot (I wish the cover looked better though, I mean, why yellow?). Scatha and The Dagda together on the same record sounded like the most reliable idea where nothing could go wrong, just like a Scottish Bret Hart versus an Irish Mister Perfect in 1993. 

Each band delivered one song on this one. Scatha's "Rant" starts off with a sample from the movie Easy Rider (Glycine Max actually used the very same one to introduce "Violent mind // Peaceful heart") before unleashing their unique brand of epic tribal metallic crust with an almost trance-like vibe that makes one want to sacrifice English policemen. Scatha were a pretty unique band, like Bad Influence or Contropotere, so that they are quite difficult to properly describe. As mentioned the drummer is on fire and each one of his many (and I mean many) tense dynamic rolls actually enhances the songwriting - as he's not (just) showing off - and help turn the songs into powerful cohesive units. There are hints of Disaffect and Sedition in the guitars, fairly logical considering the two guitar players were respectively involved in those band, but Scatha is the crustier band, definitely. Sometimes I am reminded of Misery's apocalyptics mixed with the writing flair and tunes of late Hiatus when they started to progress musically, maybe some sludgecore too and with those recognizable screaming anguished vocals. Production-wise "Rant" is not Scatha's heaviest moment although it certainly still rocks enough and I love how the different parts and paces of the songs work with each other smoothly. This number was recorded in April, 2022 and this was the band's swan song (two other songs that were to be included on the discography were recorded during the same session). Members of Scatha would eventually take part in bands like Ruin or TRIBE, the latter being the logical sequel in terms of Celtic tribal crusty hardcore. 

On the other side, one song from The Dagda is offered, a band whose live performance in 2005 in Bradford was one of the best I had ever seen (granted I was getting a little tipsy when they started playing but then it was already late, like at least 8pm). They were an absolute powerhouse. I suppose you could say the band fell under the "neocrust" umbrella to an extent, a term that has become so synonymous with the 00's that it is seldom used as a praise. And to be fair most of the bands associated with this wave (although none of them claimed the term for themselves as I remember) haven't exactly aged well. When it all kicked out following the success of Tragedy and From Ashes Rise, I was still deep in the formative process of discovery and this new wave appealed to me at first, because the bands were often very catchy and epic in a cheesy way, not to mention that they toured so that I got to see a lot of them between 2004 and 2009. I don't listen to almost any of them these days but they are still popular in some quarters. The Dagda are an exception - along with bands like Schifosi, Muga or even Ekkaia - and if the "neocrust" tag is not irrelevant there is more to the band than this.

The band formed around 1999 (I guess?) with members of the mighty Jobbykrust and Bleeding Rectum (among many other class Belfast hardcore punk bands) so they were not exactly a beginners' act and they started playing before "neocrust" was even coined so that it might be unfair to just dump them with the subgenre without taking into account wider music dynamics. That heavy hardcore and crust punk would eventually go progressive and absorb influences from other neighbouring genres (like post hardcore, emocore or screamo) was inevitable and even welcome for everyone (although some musical blends would have been better left in the artists' imagination). To a significant extent, The Dagda can be seen as a continuation of Jobbykrust even if all the members weren't involved in them. By the end of their run in the late 90's the vastly underrated Jobbykrust had turned into a heavy and dark progressive metal crust monster that stood out at the time and heralded what was to come in terms of songwriting, notably The Dagda. In terms of intensity, emotions and melodies, the link between both bands is strong and obvious.

The Dagda's sound is dark and relentless and versatile, there are a lot of changes of paces (from pummeling d-beat, to heavy mid-paced metallic hardcore or emotional hardcore) and many different narrative parts to "And so I rise". It has that epic, triumphant, unstoppable vibe when they speed things up and the singers sound so genuinely angry and desperate that it is almost contagious. It's clear that His Hero Is Gone must have enjoyed some significant airplay at the Warzone Center in Belfast and there are many dark and melancholy driving guitar leads that would become the trademark of the ensuing punk wave. I am sometimes also reminded of Damad in terms of groove and tension. This song was part of the same recording session at Warzone as their first Lp, 2002's Threefold, that would confirm all the band's potential and remains their best and most intense work with a great story to tell (The Dagda were made for albums given the genre and their fundamentally epic narrative songwriting).

Some beautiful shirts I have never seen here

This is a good split Ep enhanced by some beautiful artwork with a band reaching its conclusion and another one its full potential. This was released in 2003 on Crime Scene Records (responsible for some Boxed In and War All the Time), Panoptic Visions (Debris and Quarantine) and Anonymous Records (Disaffect and Muckspreader).

Scatha / Dagda