Saturday, 21 May 2022

Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust: Keretik "Terra Mater" Lp, 2017

The formidable abundance of readily available punk music, online just as much as in physical formats (which we used to call, in the old days, "a record" or "a tape" or even, for the embarrassingly unfashionable ones among us " a cd") can be rather vicious. On the one hand every single new recording - even the shite ones it has to be said - can be streamed, digested, stored in a corner of the brain and digested instantly, on the other, well, it has become impossible to even give a chance to many potentially worthy bands. Just listening to the first song of every new d-beat recording in a month would take you a whole afternoon, and I'm only talking about 90 second long bursts of noise. Imagine what doom metal fans and their eight minute long songs must go through because of the sheer profusion of new music, the endless flux of novelty. Poor bastards. 

Even I struggle to give a go to bands playing subgenres that I hold close to my heart even though I do spend a lot of time clearing my personal soundscape from pretentious egg punk and shoegaze abominations. Tragically, despite my Sauron-like capacity to spot good crust from miles away, some top bands do escape my awesome attention and die trying in the luxurious mountains of Mordor while terrible hobbity postpunk acts manage to crawl through the epicenter of the Crustdom. I almost did not notice Helsinki's Keretik and only gave them a listen because the Lp had been released on Urinal Vinyl, an old-school UK anarchopunk label that I always keep an eye on, and I can't praise the Dark Lord enough since Terra Mater is an unsung jewel of gloomy metallic crust. And you know what? By which I mean you probably don't but are about to because I am going to tell you what you don't know, yet, but will be happy and surprised to and possibly thinking, aloud or not, "fuck me". In fact, you probably know Keretik under another name, Viimeinen Kolonna. 

VK have been around since the early 00's and have released quite a few records on Agipunk, Hardcore Holocaust and of course Fight Records (who also have a hand in Terra Mater) so you have probably at least bumped into their name. I suppose the change of name - and the symbolical burial it implies -  signified the band's intent to try new things musically as Keretik has much more of an old-school crust feel than what VK's were famous for, that is to say thick, fast relentless thrashing Finnish hardcore. To be honest, and I am not trying to boast needlessly here, the first time I heard Keretik I thought that it was the new project of VK's singer as he has always had easily recognizable vocals. In fact, you could describe him as sounding like a crazy drunk on the street chasing you while aggressively yelling insults as loud as possible. But in a good, Finnish hardcore styled way, a genre renowned for its extremely hostile and pissed vocal aesthetics. The three members making up Keretik are not exactly novices in hard-hitting punk music as they previously made some noise in Rythmihäiriö, Agenda or the grossly underappreciated Amen. So they definitely have bad backs. 

Keretik play raw, dark and direct old-school metallic crust with mean dual vocals - gruff and hoarse shouts versus evil and desperate yells - reminiscent of the Finnish hardcore tradition but that also has a lot to do with the language itself and its particular prosodics. Along with the genuinely torturous and aggressively punk dual vocals (one of the record's strongest point, they sound like a massive bollocking of biblical proportions, a "you're being grounded, no Discharge for two weeks" kind of punishment). Finnish does confer an original vibe to the music as few old-school crust bands sang in Finnish, apart from the aforementioned mighty Amen and proto-crust legends Painajainen. Keretik did not try to go for a massive crushing sound and kept it raw and primitive which fits with the record's rather short length for the genre, seven songs in eighteen minutes. The music could be described as primal and there is a certain Amebix influence in the songwriting. There are other elements brought to the table as gloomy pagan crust punk acts like Dazd also comes to mind (especially in some creepy melodies), as well Coitus for the dark and rocking thrashing squat-crust mosh-inducing riffs and the dual vocal post-stenchcore sound of A//Solution could easily be invoked too. The record itself is a little disappointing as there is no insert included and the visual does not really appeal to me. It was released on three labels, Urinal Vinyls, Psychedelica Records and, unsurprisingly the immortal Fight Records. And as a testament of the old-school DIY punk spirit the band decided to add a patch with the record. Thanks for that.  

Keretik have another recording under their bullet belts entitled Tomorrow's Worst Enemy. It was recorded in 2021 and I am not afraid to say it pretty much stands as one of the best crust works of the past few years. Building on their raw and primitive metal punk vibe, thanks to a better sound and more articulate songwriting, Keretik have added a sense of crust epics and atmospherics without giving up on the aggression. Beside the aforementioned culprits I am reminded of Axegrinder and Misery as well. Top drawer old-school crust that I cannot believe went unnoticed. In fact, if I had not done some research about Keretik for this post, I probably would not have even known about the existence of Tomorrow's Worst Enemy while it is right up my stenchcrust alley. There is tape version of it, but the band is looking for a label for a vinyl release. You know what to do: support the band. 

Terra Mater  

Friday, 13 May 2022

Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust: Braincëll / Zikade "S/t" split Ep, 2019

There we go again after a short break during which I went on tour with one of my bands. In addition to being a world renowned crust reporter, recipient of five Stench of the Year awards, I also happen to entertain wild punk crowds of about 30 to 40 people on weekdays and up to 80 on saturday nights if the weather is alright. Arena punk-rock if you like. This assortment of human qualities never ceases to amaze my friends and family and even I have trouble realizing how much of a genius I am in the eyes of many (apart from my boss for reasons that probably have to do with me wearing my Genital Deformities shirt at work although I never asked the tasteless twat). I mean, we did draw 43 people on a cloudy wednesday night. But all good things come to an end and here I stand before my computer screen trying to decide if the description "horrendous terminal filth stench crustcore" coined by Osaka's marvelous Revenge Records - run by Jacky Framtid/Crust War - is actually relevant to qualify Zikade's artistic endeavours or if the "terminal filth" might not be considered as something of a deliciously purposeful but still a little misguiding stretch. I am back to philosophizing. 

This Ep is the second split record of the Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust series after the NIS/Warpath Ep. I have always loved split record as they epitomize the idea of collaboration, togetherness and friendship that DIY punk is supposed to be about. While the first split Ep can be said to be an accurate illustration of the early 2010's Italian crust scene and is therefore rooted locally, the Braincëll/Zikade Ep is an international initiative. Both types of split records are equally relevant and part of the traditional fabric of punk music: the local dimension is as meaningful as the international one. You can call me a naive romantic fool - although not to my face as I am hypersensitive when it comes to subjects tied to crust split Ep's - but I love the idea of breaking down barriers and, even if it is just a humble punk record, it is also, and I would argue primarily so, the network of friends in action. 

Because I am a shameless Japanese crust nerd - admittedly an acquired taste as it took me some time to properly relate to its inner dynamics - my attention was immediately set in motion the first time Zikade was mentioned to me and when I saw that they borrowed the Sacrilege font for their own name, like Sacrifice before them, my senses were on full alert. I was ready to jump on my prey like a graceful tiger awaiting for its meal or more realistically like a drooping smug geek staring at rubbish and mushy live videos of Zikade on youtube. In the end, I did get to listen to Zikade properly and they delivered exactly what I expected and wanted them to: Japanese-styled old-school Mermaid cavemen crust. I did not want to be disconcerted or challenged in the least. My thirst for crust needed to be assuaged and this record more than made up for it. But let's start with the first side and Braincëll.

I was familiar with this Kuala Lumpur crust unit since their Mindlock tape Ep in 2016 and although I did not scout for the vinyl version of the recording, it did stick as a solid 90's käng crust effort which was very pleasing as this type of sound is sadly not as widespread and popular as it used to be (because of indie punk and shit). Unsurprisingly the members of Braincëll are old-timers of the Malaysian hardcore punk scene who have been involved in bands like Antiprotokol or Appäratus since the early/mid 00's. You can tell they know what they are doing that is to say, as they proudly state on their bandcamp page, "90's crust up your arse!". And who doesn't want that? The three songs on the Zikade split were mastered by Bri Doom and have that 90's Distortion Records crust käng vibe that I am a sucker for, with a pummeling dis-beat that is at the forefront of the mix. This is direct and brutal crustcore done with mastery and super gruff vocals, a bit like a Distortion-era blend of Phonophobia era Extreme Noise Terror, the mighty 3-Way Cum and mid-90's Doom, with an added flavour of early Driller Killer. Nothing new per se but in those dire times, I will go along Braincëll's 90's trip any day. Undeniably one of the best bands in the Swedish käng crust style. 

On the flip side Zikade, from Ashikaga, provides two songs with a dirtier, rawer production that meaningfully belongs to the extended crust family but is part of a particular branch that religiously reveres crust pants. Zikade don't offer anything new and proudly place themselves in the grand Japanese crust tradition of utter unabated Doom/Sore Throat-love, a sentiment that started with Macrofarge and peaked with Abraham Cross and early Reality Crisis in the 90's. Zikade do have a more old-school metallic crust to their sound, especially the guitar that is not unlike '87 Deviated Instinct, '86 Antisect and, I cannot help thinking, an SDS influence as well, not in terms of tones - at all - but in the songwriting, and whether is is intentional or just unavoidable, since SDS stands as this ultimate Japanese crust classic, remains an open question that won't probably make anyone lose sleep although I did struggle for at least five minutes yesterday night. If you are into that type of crust sound that glorifies emphatic early cavemen crust gruff vocals then Zikade will definitely be your dodgy-looking bottle of smelly homebrew that will have you sleep in the gutter of crust in no time. Prior to this Ep, the band has released two demo cdr's in 2016 and 2017, the first of which sounds like a rough primitive version of their sound, you have been warned. Singer Sadakichi also played in Pokkoider, a rather - intentionally? - unlistenable noisecore-drenched dual vocal cavemen crust band that I can only recommend for well-trained listeners of crust as a beginner might possibly go irremediably mad. It can also be used to repel rodents. 

This split Ep cannot be said to be a classic, however it is a very solid slice of tasty brutal crust representing two different but complementary schools, the käng-influenced 90's crustcore sound for Braincëll and the traditional Japanese Doom-loving stench crusher take of Zikade. It was released in 2019 on Hardcore Victim, a top-notch Melbourne label active since 2008 that has been putting out class records from the likes of Zyanose, Enzyme or Sistema en Decadencia to name some of the most recent ones. What could possibly have gone wrong?    


Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust: Horrendous 3D "The Gov. and Corps. are using Psycho​-​electronic Weaponry to Manipulate you and me​..." Ep, 2021

Contrary to the latest entries of Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust, this Ep actually got some publicity when it came out last year. A part of me would malevolently enjoy suggesting that this - necessarily undeserved - attention has to do with the town of origin of Horrendous 3D, Portland, but that would just be embarrassingly envious ravings as the band's Ep is objectively one of the best crust Ep's of the 2020's, which is not that much of a feat considering we are only in 2022 but it is nonetheless still something I would take any day with my band. I remember being rather jealous of PDX bands in the early/mid 00's and would often claim that, had they not been from this glorious hardcore punk town that had been consistently delivering quality bands since the 1980's, people would not care as much for them and maybe, instead, would give some attention to my own band, which was itself a rather poor attempt at sounding like a PDX band that was not fooling anyone really, apart from our own selves. Our high point as a band was to empty three venues in a row. And effortlessly too. Here's talent for you.

So H3D - the acronym looks like the name of a Star Wars robot droid - did get some attention and even got reviewed. I noticed at least three proper reviews of the geezer from people who do not exactly seem to be your crasher crust deviants. I suppose that the record being released on Frank's (from the brilliant Lebenden Toten and my beloved Atrocious Madness) excellent label Whisper in Darkness did help H3D getting noticed but it is also, and primarily in fact, a strong Ep in its own right so that the attention is not unwarranted (like I feel it is sometimes for bands boasting long "ex-member lists"). What really surprised me is that even people who would not be caught dead holding a Sore Throat did buy the record. Don't get me wrong, these people are not prejudiced against crust punks. They will insist that they had a crust punk friend at school (that one of their cousins inexplicably ran out with one night never to be heard of again) and own a copy of Police Bastard although they just can't find it right now. Unexpected but nonetheless pleasant as it did briefly validate my tastes. Needless to say that they probably played H3D once and fucked off listening to trendy postpunk right away.

At first, the moniker perplexed me a little, especially since I am pretty big on Sweden's "just like" d-beat band Horrendous. I suppose the addition of "3D" does reinforce the atmosphere of paranoia, mind manipulation and lsd that is also conveyed by the astonishing artwork so I got used to it in the end, and, at least, they did not go for a Disclose song and it makes the name easy to remember. H3D are fresh blood as well and judging from a video, none of them seems to have a bad back, so they may even be relatively young by 2020's punk standards. The band released a demo in 2019 that I genuinely enjoyed and, while it would a bit of an overstatement to say that I was anxiously waiting for a piece of vinyl, I was still sufficiently impressed to keep a close eye on the situation in PDX, like a majestic friendly but still awe-inspiring (vegan) eagle hovering over the world crustness. Or something. What I particularly related to was the band's ability to blend the classic and emphatic Kyushu noiziness with the insane song structures and drumming of 90's Japanese crasher crust and the traditional old-school UK cavemen crust sound, while still keeping with a local tradition represented by the aforementioned Lebenden Toten and Atrocious Madness. Too many bands spend hours fiddling with their pedals and their textures and tend to forget to actually write actual songs. If you listen closely to Gloom or Collapse Society, you will notice that there is some genuine songwriting taking place and I feel that H3D (and bands like Fragment or Avvikelsse to name a few other) manage to balance a deliciously distorted, madness-inducing sound with actual songwriting.

With a title that is longer that an early Proust sentence and is basically a paraphrase of big data, The Gov. does more than just offer a better recorded version of the H3D style, since the Ep tells you a whole story thanks to the change of paces (the band jumps from sludge-like stenchcore to relentless crasher käng moments and late Confuse noize), the versatile drumming, unexpected brilliant transitions, demented solos and psychedelic noisepunk bits. It's more than just four random songs assembled together, it is a seven-minute long crust story that is being told and that is exactly what makes the Ep memorable. There is a hidden level of referentiality in H3D's music as well. Beside the obvious influences, some Easter Eggs are included in some songs that you can only notice if you majored in Doom Studies. At some point in "Option?" the relentlessly pummeling music stops and then a über-distorted noize crust version of Doom's opening to their cover of Sabbath's "Symptoms of the universe", only present of a Peel Session, kicks in before the singer growls a couple of words and the battering continues. Similarly, the closing song of their demo "A claw reaches out from the abyss" uses a techno sample that was also used by Doom on The Greatest Invention Lp as an introduction to their opening song "Happy pill". Of course, you do not need to get the references encoded into the music to enjoy H3D's relentless noise crust bollocking but I like to think that these hidden nods are multilayered: first, a way to profess their love for classic Doom, their connection with Doom-loving bands who also use such references (the previously reviewed Napalm Raid's Lp comes to mind, especially they worked on the same bit of Doom legacy), and their love for people who live for that type of nerdy Doom references. That's a lot of love for the initiated. 

It is an ace Ep and it sounds massive and crushing, blown out but absolutely relentless. Imagine D-Clone and Defector getting wankered on the shrooms provided by Total Noise Accord at a Doom conference organized by Sarcasm and taking place at the PDX headquarters of Crust War Records and chatting about dementia and mass manipulation at the age of big data. This love for crust psychedelia is also reflected in the paranoia-inducing lyrics and the short text (probably an extract or a summary from a longer one) about big data and algorithmic control. The artwork of The Gov. Ep is a bit of a Marmite deal. You either love it or hate it. I have read people comparing it to the mid/late 80's Bluurg records visuals (he probably had Open Mind Surgery and some Culture Shock and AOS3 tapes in mind) and it was not done as a compliment. I personally do not dislike it, it does have a messy, teeming retro look (a bit Oi Polloi-ish I feel), not unlike a lot of 90's crust records (the circled A and E as well as the celtic knots, poorly drawn skulls and an oddly proportioned dove are here to remind you of that legacy) generally unhindered by good taste. I suppose the cover is also meant to illustrate the dementia and chaos inherent in modern postindustrial societies. There is a poster included too, another great initiative reminiscent of the heyday of generic yet lovable anarcho-crust, that is equally as brimming with punk as fuck cartoons and clearer in term of symbolism. A man with the lower part of the body missing (pulled apart we're led to believe) is surrounded by chaos, death and overall nastiness but he does not realize it since he has some sort of virtual reality helmet on that makes him see an idealized peaceful city instead of the grim reality. Dystopian stuff. Although if such a technological device would allow me to watch an 1986 Antisect gig as if I were actually there, would I take it? Would you? 

This is one of the best Ep's in the distorted crasher crust department of the past few years so if you can get a copy, do not hesitate. 


War is Horrendous 3D                  

Monday, 11 April 2022

Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust: NIS / Warpath "Origini D'Odio / Nel Dilagare Della Follia" split Ep, 2011

The series is supposed to be a grandiose show of force for the ages, a fearless masterclass of resilience, wit and crushing expertise that will assert my absolute domination over the crust game. I have recently been told, to my disbelief, that I was pretty much the only wanker around even willing to play the game anyway. But rest assured that such pathetic displays of envy do not affect my quest and leave my unbreakable faith unimpaired (I still resolved to call my trustful bludgeon-men and had the libellous bastard sent to the indie-rock gulag, that'll teach him). The only thing that does bother me is the subject of my heritage. To whom should I bequeath this well of crust wisdom? I am certainly not going to procreate (I shiver at the thought of what a baby would be capable to do to my Macrofarge flexi?) and although I do have a nephew, for now he seems to be solely interested in running after pigeons so I cannot say he is completely ready yet. If you know someone pious enough in your circle of friends or enemies, I have been thinking of taking apprentices to train in the arcane arts of crust. Resumes can be sent through the email address above. Ta.

If anything, the crust genre can be described as rather humble and unpresumptuous. Crust band do not strive to reinvent the wheel or pretend to redefine, challenge or question conventional notions of what hardcore is supposed to sound like (which is what every fancy punk labels claim to be doing). They just aim at sore-throating you into the ground or axegrinding you into submission. Noble endeavours indeed that rarely need to be disguised as something else than what they are already noisily professing to be. In the last review, I wrote about ancient crust traditions and about the need to protect and care for them. Silly naive Bristol-styled punk sketches, ripping off Antisect and Amebix, not tuning properly your instrument, dual vocals sounding like a mean argument between irate cavemen, having too many pints of cider just before getting on stage... All traditional crust rituals that must be safeguarded in the face of aggression by oi music, pricy pedal boards, high-waist jeans and indie-rock: the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. 


The piece of Unesco-validated Intangible World Heritage of crust I am referring to today is the modest split Ep released by a dozen or more of tiny DIY punk labels. The NIS/Warpath split Ep was released by no less than twenty labels and while it's not exactly a world record (a mate of mine was recently involved in a release that saw one hundred labels join forces) it's still pretty impressive. The basic reason for this abundance has to do with finances. Hardcore punk labels - and I am not even talking about grind or crust-oriented ones - are often short on cash so that such collaborations tend to minimize risks. No one wants to sell his or her Doom collection because he or she was crazy enough to put out 300 copies of a full album of a mate's solo grindcore project and badly needs money after selling only 5 copies, to the mates of the aforementioned mate. It is after all a fragile economy and even though some established labels often put out records on their own, many "smaller bands" - the euphemism traditionally used to refer to bands that are not fashionable (and also, although not necessarily, just not very good) - rely on small structures that can contribute modest sums of money. Some of the labels involved in the split - like Droit des Animaux or Alma Mater - were short-lived and probably not actual labels, but rather a band member or a loyal friend willing to spend a bit of money, 50 euros maybe, on the release which, in such cases, challenges the notion of "label" I guess. Others however have consistent discography and are (or were) active on that level, like Tanker Records or the sadly defunct Undislessed from France and Death Crush from Italy. Since NIS and Warpath are DIY Italian punk bands, it is little wonder that there are many DIY Italian punk labels involved in the project and browsing through the discography of these labels proves to be a great way to discover local bands that you have probably not heard of and, in the end, that's what it's all about.

Let's start with NIS (Nevrosi Irresistible del Sistema). The band was from the Foggia region in the South of Italy and was around in the late 00's and early 10's. I first listened to the band through a 2008 cdr demo (these were not frowned upon and deemed uncool at that time) of theirs, Presagi di un'Insulsa Rovina, and enjoyed their rough grinding cavemen crustcore sound seasoned with filthy stenchcore, like Embittered meeting Berserk at a 90's eurocrust night or something. Pretty good shit indeed. A much better recorded split Ep with the manic fast hardcore unit Humus followed the year after seeing NIS taking more of a metal-punk inspired approach to their gruff crust rather than a filthy old-school crust one if you know what I mean and I did not relate to the recording as much. Their side of the split with Warpath was recorded in July, 2010 in Bari and sounds more convincing than their previous work. For some reason, I get an unintentional (I can only presume) rocking and gruff Mexican crust vibe, like Coaccion, Massakro or Antimaster. As mentioned, it is not completely my cup of tea but I do believe the three raw songs work well in the style and I enjoy them enough. As I said, not unlike Latino American rocking crustcore, with some Cop On Fire grooviness and late Giuda's metallic epics. Still, the real nuggets on this Ep can be found on the Warpath side.

Before buying this record, I was completely unaware of Warpath as I had only grabbed it on a small Italian distro because I liked NIS' demo well enough. I have already talked about how amazing it feels to buy a record from an unknown band and realize it is the dog's bollocks and how rare such incomparable experiences have become because of music streaming. We just no longer like to be surprised. The unoriginally named Warpath were from Milan in the North of the Country (the two songs they contributed were recorded in Alessandria though) and listening to their two numbers for the first time was an elating experience. In order to convey a sense of my enthusiasm I will be rather bluntly plebeian and unusually plain: Warpath ticked all my boxes and were right up my alley. They had that heavy, nasty, organic crust sound, they played filthy stenchcore with the adequate variety of paces (from the crushing mid-tempo, the charging Dis beat to the punishingly fast) and they still practiced the ancient crust tradition of gruff male and female dual vocals. What more can one ask from an unknown band? If you are into stenchcore, and I suspect you are if you have made it this far into the review, this Warpath recording is for you. I am heavily reminded of '09/'11 era Cancer Spreading which is an excellent thing and makes sense in the Italian crust context but also noticeably of the ace 90's Polish metallic crust bands like Enough! or Silna Wola and some cavemen US stenchcrust hordes like Hellbound and Man the Conveyor, all top references among the Terminal Sound Nuisance staff. The vocals are brilliant and I love how the atmosphere of polyphonic inferno, the injured bear engaging furiously with the hellish witch and the more classic shouting anarcho singer. Fury unleashed. 

Warpath did record a full album released in 2016 after a change of personnel, Martina replacing Manu on vocals - thus with two women on dual vocals - and Ale replacing Simo on guitar. Oblio is not as stenchcore-oriented and does not have that super heavy disgusting down-tuned sound of decay to it, which at first was something of a minor disappointment to me. However looking back, it is still a solid album of fast and heavy dual-vocal 00's-styled crustcore and with the current shortage of such bands, one cannot afford to be a vain perfectionist (to be honest, something of a challenge for me).    

A humble and strong split Ep overall that illustrates what the Italian crust scene was producing in the early 10's and can be said to be a minor stenchcore classic because of the Warpath songs. You would be a fool to dismiss it.           

NIS vs Warpath              

Thursday, 7 April 2022

Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust: Scum System Kill "Scandinavian Tour" tape, 2018

I recently had a rather heated argument with a mate about punk's conservativeness. Here's why. He alleged that punk music was inherently conservative, not just because it does not really bring anything new artistically to the table, but because it does not really try to and everyone seemed quite content with reviving past trends and resigned to this state of stagnation. According to him, this swampiness does not really entice potential young punks (aka "the kids") to join the force and conceive the warmest passion about a Disclose tribute band. I don't completely disagree with the statement, to be honest, and to my great dismay, the desertion of certain styles or subscenes by younger punk-rockers cannot be reasonably deemed as beyond comprehension. It can be difficult to relate to a hardcore band if the tacit prerequisite is to be conversant in Boston hardcore and being over 40. A lot of the spontaneity has indeed deserted our bands and when you are a teenager, energy and sincerity are what matter, not the accuracy of your nods to 80's bands or your laborious Anti-Cimex worship. Basically, a lot of the kids crave for something new and not middle-aged twats debating the relevance of flexis in the earl 2010's or the GISM reunion shows. But there are young punk bands out there, a lot of them sounding juvenile and unrefined with a suspect lack of expensive pedal boards that apparently disconcert older show-goers. So in the end, the hypothetical stagnation has probably more to do with our vision of the punk scene than the punk scene itself.  

On the other hand, this so-called stagnation can also be seen as a re-assertion of creative traditions and aesthetical practices that have structured punk music since - about - the Mesozoic. When I was "a kid" this particular cultural aspect was one of the things that drew me into the music and the philosophy. It was not just "noise", there was a web of intertextual references, a history of trends, of radical changes, of antagonism, splits, arguments and so on that, in my innocent eyes, turned punk into a valid and legitimate culture that I wanted to be a part of and identify with. Of course, I loved to drink myself into a stupor and pogo the night away before whoever was playing as long as it was fast and loud and I did not give a shit whether the singer was wearing a Judgement shirt and had previously done backing vocals in a "classic band". 20 years later and I am able to notice such things and this knowledge partly conditions how I am going to approach and listen to the band, like for any form of art. But it should not keep "the kids" from enjoying a hardcore band for what it intrinsically is: a rock'n'roll band with a contagious energy like no other genres. Does my belief in the validity of and the necessary care for punk's traditions makes me a conservative? Do you need novelty to attract newcomers? Or do you just need to build a performative discourse about novelty to do so? The shit is deep.  

One of the punk traditions that, on principle although not always in practice (because, you know, indie-rock and all that) I celebrate a lot, is when a band takes the song title of another band as their own moniker. As I mentioned above, I don't feel you have to be aware of the reference in order to appreciate the sound, but I if you are, it does direct your attention in a different way and you can patronize people with this knowledge like a twat. There are several layers to the way we listen to music: physically and cerebrally. I have discovered many top bands thanks to such lexical connections: Doom's "Police bastard" with Policebastard or Discharge's "Decontrol" with about 236 different Decontrol, or the other way around Detestation leading me to GISM or Masskontroll to No Security. But let's cut the crap, Scum System Kill took their name from an SDS song, that was also the name of their 1996 Ep, so that should give you a pretty solid idea as to what the band is all about. Wild metallic crust.

Oddly enough, there used to be another crust band called Scum System Kill in the late 00's that was based in Sydney, had a members from Vae Victis and sounded like your typical early/mid 00's neocrust band and not in the least like SDS. Still, I guess that the system is a scum that does kill so why not. Our SSK are still active however (I think?) and are from London, although three members are originally from Italy, which is not surprising if you know the town, as the scene over there - I should probably say scenes as things appear to be very divided there, not unlike micro-scenes living in the same building but not bothering to speak with the next-door neighbours - has a lot of punks from all over the world which accounts for the diversity of the production and the audience. SSK is not the first Italian stenchcore band based in London either as the band Grind the Enemy (named after Axegrinder's classic number) active in the early 2010's and including a future SSK member can attest. Sonically, the band does not take too much liberty with the source material and that's precisely what you are entitled to expect from such an endeavour: a crust as fuck experience. 

The music is mostly fast and thrashing but the listener is also subjected to the traditional groovy mid-paced stenchcore moments. One thing that does set SSK apart are the epic guitar leads and arrangements, clearly reminiscent of late 90's SDS dementia or 00's AGE, and even Hellbastard's crunchiness, and although the production is very raw (it's a punk demo tape, let's keep that in mind) and does not totally do justice to the guitar sound, it still rips enough and you can tell that the riff provider, Gianluca, knows what he is doing and wants to achieve and emulate. Hellshock and Sanctum also come to mind for the overall 00's stenchcore revival vibe and the classic structures and the very gruff, almost grindcore or death-metal-oriented vocals also point in that direction. The singer used to growl in Nihildum in Italy, a death-crust band, which shows, and while I am not necessarily a sucker for such singing style (by which I mean the imitation of a grizzli bear in rut), I enjoy it a lot here as it conveys a from-beyond-the-grave vibe that balances with the more dynamic and epic Japanese metal crust style.    

As mentioned earlier, Gianluca played in Grind the Enemy previously, in Give Up All Hope and in the highly underrated Nailbiter. This tape was self-released for SSK's 2018 Scandinavian tour and there were only 50 copies made, which is a bit ironic since I have only been to Scandinavia once in the mid-00's for the K-Town festival and I still have a copy. Unfortunately, the artwork is a little pixelated and the lyrics are not included which, I feel, is always something of a missed opportunity. Still, I cannot disagree with the "Stay punk stay free" motto in the Discharge lettering and the circled A. I am a sentimental fool I guess. Prior to this tape in 2017, SSK released a first rawer demo tape and there is a better-sounding version - actually mixed and mastered that is - of the Scandinavian Tour tape on their bandcamp if you are interested. A more recent recording, instrumental, from 2020 I suppose, can also be found on the website, it includes ten songs that are meant to appear on a proper record at some point. These are rough mixes of the songs but they are strong, highlighting further their thrashing SDS-ish influence, and I really hope that the band will be able to complete the work as it could be a blinder.     


Crust System Kill

Friday, 1 April 2022

Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust: Pollen "Fear of another war" Ep, 2017

"Fuck me, what a mean record, don't you think dearest?" I must have exclaimed, rather innocuously, after playing Pollen's Fear of Another War Ep for the first time. I don't remember getting a proper confirmation from the person I was addressing but then, I don't suppose I was really expecting to as the answer would have been highly redundant in any case, something like "yes indeed, it is a really mean record but then that's what we bought it for darling, you silly goose". We like to keep things as civil and genteel as possible at Terminal Sound Nuisance's headquarters. We are not fucking animals, right? 

I bought the Ep from this Philadelphia lot upon its release in 2017 as the internet was telling me there was a new scandi-noizecrust band to be reckoned with in town called Pollen (for some reason). To be fair, since the end of the 00's, the arcane art of noizy hardcore punk and crust - a cultural practice once confined to Japan where it had been previously refined for two decades - like a good wine but stored in crust pants instead of a wooden barrel - had spread liberally in many corners of the world. The Japanese scene has produced bands blasting Bristol-by-way-of-Kyuchu-styled distorted hardcore majoring either in relentless cavemen crust or in orthodox dis-mangel for a long time. It can be said to be a timeless tradition now, something impervious to outside trends, like a local punk atavism. French punks do manly oi with constipated-sounding singers, Japanese punks do noizy hardcore. It comes naturally. I guess I was basically not born in the right country as I have been running from boots and braces, sometimes quite literally and not just aesthetically, pretty much forever. So let's briefly keep 00's Japanese crasher dis-noize bands (or any assemblage of relevant adjectives) out of the picture for now and focus on the contagion. 

The "noise not music" artistic mindset rapidly developed along with the spread of blogs in the late 00's, and a couple of years later, everyone and their mums had their own Japanese-styled d-beat/crust bands while, in parallel with what could be called a global trend of crasher dis noize music, excellent contemporary bands from Japan itself at that time like D-Clone, Contrast Attitude, Framtid or Zyanose became quite well-known and fed further this global trend, even outside of the usual pompously knowledgeable circles, thanks to the nascent music streaming explosion, online pictures (punk is #) and some intense international touring. 

In Pollen's case, the intent is unambiguous as they take the Japanese crusters' 90's and 00's savagely intense reworking of vintage raw brutal käng and mangel and infuse it with an emphatically blown-out sound heavily rooted in the crasher tradition. On a metatextual level, you could say that Pollen don't just love cavemen mangel, they also, and maybe primarily so, love how Japanese punks love cavemen mangel, that is to say through added distortion and absolute frenzy. If you need an example, they basically love Framtid as much as they love how Framtid love. Know what I mean? When the phrase "blown-out cave-mangel" is casually whispered during a reception given by a respected crust delegation, you would not be wrong to think of top Swedish bands like Giftgasattack (who can be said to the pioneers of distorted käng in Europe), Electric Funeral or Paranoid, but as mentioned Pollen are certainly more influenced by demented Japanese acts like Frigöra or Ferocious X that took the classic Stockholm hardcore sound of Mob 47, Crudity, Protes Bengt or Discard and drenched it in distortion and more madness. One of Pollen's other main inspirations is Framtid and their furious and unstoppable reinterpretation of 80's cave-käng heroes Bombanfall, Crude SS and Svart Parad, a mixture which is given the blown-out distorted treatment. Pollen can be located in the middle of all this hardcore fury. 

If many bands are just content with working on their earsplitting wall of dis-noize and forget to actually write catchy harcore songs, Pollen do not and the Ep is well-written and catchy in its own right and certainly one of the best of the genres in modern times. The riffs are solid, absolutely relentless and there are enough tempo changes and hooks to keep the listener interested. Given the template the production is great and you can hear every instruments without having to focus for the whole song and I love the gruff and direct vocals. As for the name, well I am undecided. Let's just say that Pollen apparently once shared the stage with Allergy. With Flowers also on the bill that would have made for a legendary gig. 

Fear of Another War was the band's second Ep after an eponymous Ep that was similarly-inspired but perhaps not as heavy production-wise. Both records were released on Boston's Brain Solvent Propaganda, a strong label that is no stranger to punishing and noizy dis-core with releases from Aspects of War, Life Lock, Paranoid and unsurprisingly Framtid and Ferocious X. The band dissolved sometime after 2017, unfortunate as I would have been curious to see how Pollen fared on a full album, but members kept busy with many other worthy punk projects like Mortal War, Neverending Mind War or Arseholes, some of which will be tackled at some point on Terminal Sound Nuisance. There was something in the water - or more likely the beer - in Philadelphia in the late 2010's.      


Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust: Mörkt Moln "The Culling of a Great Flame" tape, 2019

Good afternoon comrades, this is Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust, the crust equivalent of a lifestyle coaching session. Be warned that it will not make you look better, lose weight or get your ex back (but if it did do that, please let me know, it would look nice on my resume and get me a few extra punk points), but, not being one to palter with the truth, it will realistically make you spend more time sitting on your arse looking for rare crust recordings on the web and possibly buy an ugly shirt of an obscure stenchcore band that your mum will strictly forbid you to wear at your niece's birthday even though you're well into your forties. Living the life indeed. I guess you could call me a crust influencer bequeathing nuggets of wisdom for free.

It is that time of the year again: spring is coming. The major difference with the last couple of years is that instead of a worldwide pandemic, you get the lurking peril of the Third World War. An undeniably bloodcurdling prospect but with forty years worth of songs about nuclear wars, I think us punks are more than ready to face the apocalypse, we have the perfect soundtrack for it, although I must concede that it might not be judicious to point it out in public. But still, spring is coming, it's just around the corner, and men, women and children will soon be able to enjoy the suffocating heat, suffocating heat and the nuclear sunrise with equanimity for the last time in order to protest and survive. Being the season of rebirth, spring is often associated with revitalisation, with imbuing thing with new life and vitality. Twats usually interprets this time of the year as the start of the warm season which induces wearing shades at all time, showing off the tats and the muscles, wearing cheap perfume that makes you gag, whistling at girls and generally behaving like a bellend as much as they can, at least until early October. Tasteful punks, on the other hand, get the sleeveless jackets out of the closet, dust the crust pants a little, maybe buy a new toothbrush (to replace the one you lost in January) and piously consider rocking something different to celebrate the opening of the festival season. And I might have just the right thing for you: Mörkt Moln.

To be honest, I did not discover the band by myself but through a member of the band who kindly wrote me an email to introduce me to the music. So thanks Simon. Now, as we negotiated, I will be waiting for your payment and expect the agreed upon percentage on the sales of all your releases for the next five years. Or else I will launch a smear campaign of unprecedented proportions and Mörkt Moln will be accused of playing indie rock gigs under a false name. You have until the end of the month as I know how to be charitable. But character assassination notwithstanding, Martin was right to send me the link. MM are different to what I listen to on a daily basis. The typical day at Terminal Sound Nuisance's headquarters normally includes 80's UK stenchcore in the morning, then 90's "just like" d-beat for lunch, some cavemen crust in the afternoon and a short crasher crust session before going to sleep. MM are a three-piece from Göteborg, Sweden, and belong to that category of bands that are not technically crust but can still be thoroughly enjoyed by the people who are into crust, who live by the crust and die by the crust.

The Culling of a Great Flame was self-released in 2019, exemplifying the DIY spirit in action. I love the aesthetics of the tape with its purposefully primitive and almost naive artwork reminiscent of the early extreme-metal scene. This raw and primitive feel is also very much reflected in the band's music so that the careful listener understands that MM gave some thought to the relation between form and content. Emerging from the DIY punk scene, the band could probably be best described as punks having a proper go at the primal and primitive early black-metal sound while keeping a significant Amebix influence and incorporating some old-school doom-metal in the process. As any self-respecting lover of crust, I like Hellhammer, Celtic Frost and Venom and MM build strongly on those bands not just in terms of actual songwriting but also of vibe and groove. The tape manages to recreate - on purpose I would presume - a sort of pagan atmosphere thanks to heavy and dark rocking riffs, trancy and epic metal-punk moments and moody synth-driven narrative transitions which I am a sucker for (it must be my long obsession with Greek crust) which really make it sound like a whole story, like an initiatory quest into the wasteland or something. 

MM certainly take their sweet time as the tape has eight songs and is about forty-minute long so that it stands as a recording you have to progressively get into. It would be an overstatement to claim that I instantly loved the tape (the band would have had to send a bigger bribe for me to claim that) but I have actually been regularly drawn to it. I love how deceptively raw and primitive it sounds as MM know what they're up to and manage to keep the simple, dark demonic heaviness of Hellhammer and Venom while adding some smart hooks and details that you do not necessarily notice at first. The epic Amebix and Axegrinder (and even Misery at times) influence is present enough to make the recording familiar (in some song structures and vocals especially) while the frequent doom-metal riffing makes it a little original to my untrained ears (my inability to grow a moustache meant I never could get into doom-metal sadly). If I were to make a bonfire in spring in order to sacrifice some hipsters for some random Crust Goddess I would probably do it to the tunes of MM. The production is quite raw but clear, with some sort of organic feel and I suppose you do not need a massive sound for that kind of primitive atavistic doom-y Frost-punk. The lyrics deal with ancient deities, Conan and "Corruptors of youth" tackles the nefarious influence of shoegaze on disaffected youths (the true evil of our time). 

The Culling of a Great Flame sounds like it looks. It is not a crust work although it is certainly dark, rocking and heavy, it also tells a genuinely epic and coherent story thanks to its changes of paces and eerie transitions and, after all, it does rely on bands that have been genuine influences on the old-school crust genre, like Venom or Celtic Frost, as well as on late (but not too late, thank fuck) Amebix and other classic Amebix-influenced bands. 

Now if the band would kindly drop the money at the spot we discussed, that'd be ace.                    

Mörkt Moln

Friday, 11 March 2022

Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust: Napalm Raid "Wheel of war" Lp, 2017

To listen to, enjoy and truly engage with certain types of noizy hardcore punk, it could be argued that you need to be, at least, a little masochistic. I mean, in theory no sane person likes to be aurally punished by purposefully brutal, relentless and loud noisy music. I remember well the combination of utter dismay and genuine concern for my mental health on some of my (non-punk) friends' faces when I played them Extreme Noise Terror as a reply to the rather innocuous question "so what do you listen to these days? Still into punk-rock?". Of course, relativity is of the essence here. If you listen to a lot of that kind of punk like myself, some vintage ENT in the morning will sound like a reward, a gratification and not like an unfair punishment inflicted by a soap-dodging weirdo. Hence the parallel with masochism. Are subgenres like cavemen crust or crasher or stenchcore musical forms of masochism? Do we like or need the pain to get into these? And if so, where would goregrind be on the scale of masochism? Shagging someone who just ate four pounds of stale garlic sausages? Such questions do make one shiver. 

Another memory that immediately comes to mind in order to illustrate this theory is Sete Star Sept's gigs in Paris in 2014. It took place in a genuinely depressing and miserable-looking bar (that also served mediocre pizzas) located in a rather rough Parisian suburbs whose landlord, a friendly Sri Lankan man, once agreed to host a punk gig in order to attract some punters as his bar was almost always empty after 6pm. Following that fateful decision of his, he ended up having punk gigs regularly, sometimes several times a week, and bands like Destino Final, Fleas & Lice, Morne and even Dropdead and The Mob played there. I don't think the landlord ever got the appeal of punk music but, up to a certain point, he managed to bear the pain stoically. That Sete Start Sept gig stands out because of how emphatically chaotic and noisy and just incomprehensible the band sounded like (I mean, even I struggle to go through a SSS record). The look on that poor man's face was one of utter disbelief, composed incredulity and fatalistic pain as he witnessed the band's performance. What unlikely chain of events, he must have asked himself, led to me owning a cheap bar hosting what could be best defined as an impenetrable wall of nasty sound that some people inexplicably seem to enjoy? SSS is a rather extreme example, his worst night maybe, and fortunately for him, not every gig were that much of a sonic bollocking. But still, as I watched the grindcore freaks relishing in the savage noise and the landlord's resilient agony, the paradox was evident. Some loved the punishment while others endured it. 

Wheel of War can be said to be an absolute scandicrust bollocking, one that is unceasingly intense and furiously harsh, one that could easily repel meaningful sectors of the hardcore punk world, one that could even be considered as being "maybe a bit much" by fans of d-beat and raw punk. And I would not entirely  disagree with such a statement actually as Wheel of War can sound a little hard to bear. But it is still patently one of the best albums in the crust category of the 2010's and most likely the best in the scandicrust subcategory. For some reason, the MTV Music Award went for Ed fucking Sheeran as artist of the year in 2017 and Napalm Raid were not even nominated. In fact, the knobheads don't even have a Best Crust Artist category. Shameful really. 

Wheel of War is so good precisely because it sounds so punishing. Whenever I play it, I excitedly anticipate the coming kicks up the arse, I know what's coming and am looking forward to it. The Lp reminds me of D-Clone Creation and Destroy, or Framtid's Lp's, or Flyblown's, or Atrocious Madness', or 3-Way Cum's Ep's, or Hiatus' Way of Doom, or Doom's Peel Sessions, not because Napalm Raid sound just like them (although the Canadians are certainly not dissimilar to some of those works) but because their Lp possesses that level of madness-inducing sonic aggression, of uncontrolled anger, of unhinged power. The battering does leave the listener exhausted but happy. Or it can lead to him or her leaving punk-rock in order to live an existence of silence in a monastery somewhere in the arse-end of nowhere.

Napalm Raid (which we will call NR from now on) are from Halifax, Nova Scotia, a dynamic Canadian town that has produced a vast number of top crust and hardcore bands (and extreme bands in general from I gather) in the past fifteen years, some of which I rate very, very highly. There will be further opportunities to talk about those in the future of Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust. I first heard of a Halifax crust scene through Contagium in the late 00's but upon preparing that dantean series I realized that the seemingly immortal System Shit are also from there and, uncoincidentally NR did a split tape with them in their early years. NR caught my attention in 2012 when I bumped into their video of "Why" (where does that come from) on fucking youtube (I have to say I am generally not a big fan of music videos but this one is pretty basic, just the band playing in the studio, nothing cheesy). I was of course impressed with the band's solid, hard-hitting knowledgeable take on the 90's Anti-Cimex/Driller Killer sound but I was particularly fond of the deeply deranged echoing reverbed vocals. At the time, not every band and their mum used such effects (Destino Final obviously did, a lot) so that it sounded a little different. Because I was absolutely skint at the time, I could not buy the Mindless Nation Lp though. 

Two years after, I read about NR's new Ep Storm, a record that I instantly got into and promptly got hold of. While the band kept a significant Cimex käng backbone, they added a distorted Japanese crust sound to the music and, in an emphatically loving move, reinforced the early Doom influence especially on the vocals and the animalistic cavemen atmosphere. Thanks to a massive crashercrust-styled production, Storm was an absolute crusher of a record that indicated a strong crustification of NR's music. I love both Wheel of War and Storm but I would understand why one would rate the latter higher (I think I do, because I did not expect it to be that good). I literally could not wait for the followup and when Wheel of War came out I already knew that it was going to be a collection of intense scorchers but wondered if the album was going to sound like a meaning-enhancing cohesive whole as opposed to just like an assemblage of songs that sound good separately but do not really work together. Was it going to be a collection of short stories or a proper novel? I would have been fine with both but to pull out a genuine great crust album you do have to think about how your songs echo and relate with each other, how specific changes affect the overall narrative. Quite a challenge really as, in the world of crust, recording a great Ep is not the same as writing a great album, the stakes are just different. 

Thankfully NR managed to write a magnificent second album that does not relinquish any of the band's awe-inspiring crushing power and still tells a good story and has a solid plot with enough changes of paces and executions, enough introductions and transitions to make the album memorable. Don't get me wrong, it still sounds like a demented grizzli bear giving you a right bollocking and not like a boringly pretentious German post-hardcore project but I appreciate when records really tell me something (well, shout mercilessly something at me in this case). The sound is a little different to Storm's, maybe less distortion-oriented however the drums have never sounded so powerful, like an endless shower of crust pants-wearing meteors crashing on the listener. Heavy shit. Wheel of War opens with the eponymous song, a metallic filth-crust number - with those hyperbolic howling Doom-like anguished cries that personify the band - that sounds like a rabid row between Brum's finest, Driller Killer, Framtid and Disturd. The next two songs are faster and more direct distorted scandicrust songs that just pummels the shit out of you while "No law" is more has more of a mid-paced distorted 00's stenchcore with a thrashing groove, you know what I mean? The next two are more short sharp shocks of crasher-käng and the final number of the first side is a heavy and dark mid-paced Cimex-styled beefy conclusion. The second side does not let the pressure off at all and keeps assaulting your senses. The highlights include "Wounds" a massive distorted groovy tribute to Doom's cover of Black Sabbath - it really is a tribute to the tribute and multilayered referentiality for careful crusters - and "Untold reality", a kind of melancholy and long Wolfpack-inspired käng ballad. Who said d-beat could not reflect morosity?

Wheel of War is pretty much flawless. I have friends who cannot get past the hyperbolic version of Doom vocals but I definitely think they are an element that makes NR so good and recognizable, which is not so easy in the crowded Dis-crust genre. NR are also somewhat unique in that they occupy a liminal position, the boundary between beefy Anti-Cimex käng, neanderthal Doom-worship and manic crasher-styled Japanese crust. It's like chopping some 90's Cimex, early Reality Crisis, early Driller Killer and Disturd with a knife sharpened with classic Doom, then cook it in a Distortion Records pot, spice it up with some Framtid and Bombanfall, then serve it to a rabid Swedish bear and hear the fucker roar through a distorted microphone in your ear. This album sounds massive and unstoppable. You've been warned. 


Saturday, 5 March 2022

Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust (2012-2021): Ydintuho / Axebastard "Atomic Crust" split tape, 2012

We have been talking a lot about band names on Terminal Sound Nuisance and by that I mean that you have been reading, with faithful awe, what yours truly has to say about terminology. More often than not, I find myself caught in a maelstrom of semiological circumvolutions about dis-prefixed monikers and to be honest I really enjoy that. One of life's simple joys. The band that inspired me to write this short piece today is, rather expectedly if you have already bumped into the blog, even accidentally, because, as people say, shit happens and loneliness often induces longer hours spent before a screen, not that that implies you are lonely, but you might be in which case said piece will hopefully entertain you, Axebastard. If you know anything about crust, if you have at least some basic knowledge about this mighty wave, you will be bound to know why Axebastard are called Axebastard, the subjective (un)tastefulness of such a lexical choice not withstanding. The prefix "axe" for Axegrinder and the substantive "bastard" for Hellbastard. One may propound that they could have gone for Hellgrinder but I for one am of the opinion that Axebastard was the wisest, if you can call it that, option of the two since Hellgrinder, to my ears anyway, conjures up images of Metal Punk Death Squad action rather than stenchcore goodness. 

Atomic Crust is the title of this split tape just to remind you and make sure that you are well aware that, upon listening to the tape, you will very likely be exposed to crust music or affiliated. I actually hesitated before including the tape in Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust, not because it does not correspond aesthetically and artistically to the template of the series, quite the contrary, but because it was released physically in late 2012, the time limit of the selection, and both sides were recorded in 2010, which is outside of the limit. But I suppose rules are meant to be broken or as Abrasive Wheels used to sing "No rules is the first rule" so there you go: the 2012 split tape between two Finnish bands Axebastard and Ydintuho.

Before getting to the actual music, I have to admit that the choice to include this work had a lot to do with how the tape, the object looked, to be more accurate, it mostly had to do with how hyperbolically, emphatically and shamelessly CRUST it looked. It does not come with your usual cold jewel plastic case but with a foldout paper case enveloping the tape along with a separate lyric sheet. Like the vinyl or cd formats, it is not uncommon for DIY punk tapes to experiment with different sort of casing techniques, even if it makes the object more fragile and prone to tears, but still  in this case it looks absolutely brilliant. My detector measured significantly high levels of crustness just with the foldout paper and it almost exploded upon opening the thing. The artwork is saturated with crust signifying, naive and deliciously crude crasher-styled skulls with punk haircuts, war banners, empty bottles, more crusty skulls, some sort of orc, a Mad Max cosplayer with a dilapidated guitar, rows of sloppily drawn skulls, weapons from the Bronze Age, grim black and white pictures with slogans about the nuclear war and a crust skull with a circled A on the forehead. It is like a crust bingo or crust fan service and I, for one, actually really enjoy the band's intent to pay a tribute to the classic crust aesthetics while playing and having fun doing it. I mean, the tape is called Atomic Crust for a reason. Fucking lol, right?

So what about the music then? Technically the first side is Ydintuho, a band from Kuusamo that I had, for some reason, never heard of although they did a split Ep with Kilmä Sota in 2012. Oh well. Ydintuho have been running since at least 2008 and are apparently still active which is a testament to resiliency in an age when the average life expectancy of a band is 18 months, 2 albums, 1 tour and 186 instagram posts. The band proudly claims to play "raw punk deathstrike" and sensibly so. The tracks were recorded in 2010 (I think) so that they aptly represent what Ydintuho were about in their early stage. It won't take anyone by surprise to learn that these Finns engage in raw and distorted d-beat punk. I can hear a distinct Japanese noize crust influence, not unlike Contrast Attitude or D-Clone with vocals reminiscent of Atrocious Madness and a healthy passion for Disclose which they cover lovingly. At that point in time, there were certainly not as many bands going for that classic Japanese crasher noize hardcore in Europe (Giftgasattack comes to mind and a bit later Electric Funeral) so while Ydintuho did not invent that particular wheel, they undeniably prefigured the rapid spread of that noize-not-music niche genre worldwide, a modest achievement perhaps but one that is meaningful if you closely consider the evolution of trends, and they remain a rare Finnish example of the style. I had not played the Ydintuho side for a long while and was very pleasantly surprised. Give the rest of their records a try, they are very much worth the attention.   

On the other side are Axebastard, the crustier element of the tape. You won't need much imagination to make a guess at what those dirty punks were up to: apocalyptic and rocking raw stenchcore. You could diachronically locate the band in that post 00's stenchcore revival wave that saw the rise of European bands like Cancer Spreading or Last Legion Alive. Sadly the band did not play for long (between 2008 and 2011 I think) and while the rawness of the four songs on Atomic Crust can be rightly appreciated for their cavemen quality, I nonetheless would have loved to see what Axebastard could have achieved with a better production and a proper vinyl release. If you are looking for dirty stenchcore with mean gruff bearish vocals, rocking cavecrust moments interspersed by heavy filthy thrashy metallic breaks, then Axebastard are tailor-made for you. They are not unlike a primitive, preliterate crust-and-proud version of Hellshock and Stormcrow and I cannot help thinking about early Cancer Spreading too, a good thing since they have stood for the Euro stenchcore sound for all of the 2010's. I like how the band tried to use several type of vocals on the opening track, the rendering is not perfect but the idea is sound, and that sort of mid-paced d-beat drumming fits well here. The second number is a groovy Extinction of Mankind-influenced song with ace double bass drumming and expert headbanging power while the third track is a faster, more traditionally pummeling 90's cavemen crust headbutt and the final one is basically a blend of these elements with a gloriously filthy mid-tempo moshing stenchcore conclusion. Nothing ground-breaking but it does leave the listener waiting for more. I am personally curious about what Axebastard would have been able to achieve with a longer format in terms of cohesion, narration and atmosphere because these four songs work very well together. 

The Axebastard side was also recorded in 2010 and there is a rough 2008 rehearsal tape that you can download on their bandcamp entitled Post-Apocalyptic Visions of Darkness (just in case you were hesitant about the genre) that included a song called "Hellgrinder". Cheeky fuckers. I also found a file from 2009 that is supposedly a cdr demo with different and rawer versions (unmixed maybe?) of three songs on the tape and some visuals for the band and even a picture. This recording is nowhere to be found on soulseek so I included it in the download file, for posterity. Atomic Crust, in the end, can be said to be one for the crustiest crusters that I warmly recommend, if only for the fact that Axebastard is one of the very few Finnish stenchcore bands. That's trivia gold.

So let's axe the fucking bastard, shall we?