Thursday 31 May 2012

Chaotic Subversion / The Disturbed split tape

As it has been a while since the last post, I have decided to offer you a double dose of amazing punk-rock. Two for the price of one. Believe me that's a quite a bargain you're in for.

On the first side are the grand Chaotic Subversion and not only did they have a terrific (and cheesy) name, but their recordings include some of the snottiest anarchopunk I have ever heard. Judging from the cover (yes, that's a poorly drawn cartoon of the band rehearsing), one can easily notice that these young lads were also influenced by the Bristol glue-sniffing brigade of Chaos UK, Disorder, Ad'Nauseam. But like other followers of this cider-drinking cult around Britain at the time (Dirge, Caustic Filth, Insurrection, Plasmid...), Chaotic Subversion had seriously angry lyrics (from what I can decypher) and belonged to the mid-late 80's Scottish anarchopunk scene. They even had an anti-fur song, "Why fur?".

Musically, the "Law and order" demo is very much in the UK82 tradition (think Court Martial, Instant Agony, Septic Psychos, Actives and so on) and although it may already have been 5 years too late, they did it with heart, spikes and teenage anger. The second demo recorded in 1987 is even better as Chaotic Subversion started playing fast, raw straight-up hardcore-punk. Bass-driven, distorted guitars, drum rolls all over, this will please the Chaos UK/Disorder fanatics who will also notice a European hardcore influence in the mix (Italian hardcore comes to my mind. Wretched perhaps?) and the seeds of what was to become the almighty Sedition. If the name of the song "Why fur?" hadn't rung a bell (yes, that was a clue), let me tell you that Chaotic Subversion was a pre-Sedition band, hence the presence of this song that will also find its way in the Sedition set (and later in the Scatha one) and the strong ressemblance with early Sedition recordings from the 80's. Sounds awesome, right? Their side of the tape includes their two demos and a compilation track.

On the other side awaits another Scottish band called The Disturbed and amusingly enough, this bunch also had people who would go on to play with Sedition, Disaffect, Scatha and even TRIBE. How incestuous can the punk scene get! If you want to know more about Chaotic Subversion/Sedition and The Disturbed, I strongly advise to read the chapters about Scotland in "Trapped in a scene" (I know this book starts to take on a biblical importance here...).

Back to the tape, you'll find The Disturbed 4th demo of 1987, a rough and ready practice of the same year, their 1988 Ep called "This is credibility" and a compilation track. Though some songs are reminiscent of Anti-System or AOA, the band played beefy, fast punk-rock in the Varukers/GBH/Broken Bones/One Way System vein, which made sense their singer also used to front Last Rites in the early 80's. Interestingly, it wouldn't be far-fetched to point out that The Disturbed were sonically not unlike how were to sound 90's British hardcore-punk bands. The songs are aggressive, the sound is raw but dynamic and you can even actually understand what the singer is on about sometimes (but still not too often). Again, lyrics are political and serious and deal with everyday life's hardships.

If you don't like this, you should give up on punk-rock.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Decontrol "Thunk!" demo tape 1991

People with decent music tastes tend to agree that Discharge's "Decontrol" is possibly the best song ever. It therefore doesn't come as a surprise that punk bands around the globe chose "Decontrol" as their moniker. There is a d-beat Decontrol in Canada, there was a Descontrol in Peru and even an utterly skilless Decontrol around in the early 80's in England, but the band we are talking about here was around in the very early 90's in the Durham/Tyne &Wear area.

Like Slander, Decontrol were part of the Northern anarchopunk and hardcore scene as their thanks list testifies (Hellkrusher, One by One, Senile Decay, Armed Relapse). While Slander had taken a Varukers/Hellkrusher path, Decontrol is much more of an 80's anarchopunk band in terms of sound, lyrics and esthetics. Their obvious main influence would be Conflict (they even offer a sloppy cover of "Increase the pressure" on this tape) but there is also a distinct UK82 spontaneity and snottiness to their tunes. The drumming is fast and binary, the riffs are simple, the chorus are catchy and can be sung along and the presence of two pissed off singers really helps make the songs dynamic despite the rather rough recording. The Ad'Nauseam demos, the Insurrection Lp or early Instant Agony would not be irrelevant comparisons. If Active Slaughter were 16 and couldn't play, you wouldn't be too far from Decontrol. If you like your English anarchopunk with a healthy dose of snot, aggression and attitude, Decontrol will work perfectly.

The lyrics are probably the strongest point here. Those were angry young punks. "Organized crime" gives the fingers to all religions, "Stereotyped" is about punks who are into politics for fashion's sake (it seems Decontrol were not too keen on the "metal invasion" of the scene), "No torture" deals unsurprisingly with vivisection and "Working class hero", my personnal favourite, tells the story of Harry Roberts, a man who killed three coppers in 1966 shortly after the World Cup in England. You have to love the parallel: "In the 1966 World Cup final / Geoff Hurst scored three goals / Less than two weeks later / Harry got a hat trick of his own". Just brilliant. Judging from the artwork, the band was very involved with Class War, the ALF, throwing bricks at the pigs, kicking nazis in the bollocks and having Tintin say "All yuppies are bastards!".

Top notch or what?

Sunday 13 May 2012

Slander "Politicians cause it" demo 1992

After a couple of punktastic 80's English bands and in order to prove that I am not stuck in that "golden era" of amazing punk music, terrible mainstream music and drug overdoses (the contrary would be odd indeed since I was only starting to shit my pants when Antisect released their Lp), today we will have a recording from the 90's. I know, how audacious.

Slander fits perfectly in the "obscure bands no one cares, or cared, about" category. Actually, their only vinyl appearance was on the 1in12 double-Lp compilation "Wild and crazy noise merchants... invade a city near you". This is their 1992 demo. Slander were from the North of England and they appear on thanks lists of bands such as Armed Relapse or Decontrol, so it is safe to suggest that they were a part of that scene along with other greats like Hellkrusher, One by One or Wartorn.

If you enjoy 90's UK hardcore-punk, you are going to love these five songs. The first three are fast scorchers while the last two are longer and mid-tempo. If you need points of comparison, they would fell perfectly at ease at a dinner party with Truth Decay, Substandard, Armed Relapse, Beergut 100, early Hellkrusher and the Varukers. The last song even reminds me of Exit-Stance or the Mad Are Sane, especially the song structure and the drumming pattern. The sound on the tape is actually quite good and typical of the period: not too rough, clear and punchy. The lyrics are not included with my tape, and that's unfortunate, but you can decypher what the singer is on about fairly easily. Songs against politicians, war, conformity and life's daily grind. Isn'it just what you expect from a decent punk band?

Saturday 5 May 2012

Jesusexercise "The voice of profit, the sound of poverty" Ep 1990

Not a British band for a change on my part, since Jesusexercise were from Sweden. While the Swedish punk scene is widely known and revered among punks (and for good reason, hasn't Sweden produced dozens of great crust bands throughout the years?), Jesusexercise remains an obscure band. One might point out that they were a short-lived band and that they chose a terrible name (that's not really questionable). But one should not judge a book from its cover: as the Debauchery album has shown us, terrific punk-rock can hide behind shitty cover or non-sensical names (see Japanese bands for more on this matter).

Jesusexercise played old-school crust music, which makes sense since this Ep was recorded in January 90. The first British crust wave was on its last breath at that time, but their influence on other scenes was starting to grow with bands like Hiatus, Coitus, SDS or Nausea all carrying the banner. I think Jesusexercise could be seen in the same light. Their artwork is very reminiscent of Amebix, Antisect ("Out from the void" era) and, anachronistically, of Warcollapse's early singles (I actually read somewhere that one member of Jesusexercise went on to play in Warcollapse, which would make sense visually and musically). For some reason, Sweden has never produced many old-school crust bands (or "stenchcore" if you really love the 21st century that much). Of course, you had Dom Där, a band that blended the classic mid-tempo crust epics (especially on the "Stench of decay" Ep) with their own brand of hardcore. It is no coincidence if two members of Dom Där also played in Jesusexercise at a time - the early 90's - when the crust influence was the most felt. Warcollapse, as brilliant as they have always been, only totally picked the stenchcore path on the one record, "Crust as fuck existence", a crushing tribute to the UK crust sound, a genre that they only hint at on other records (I mean, Warcollapse are more doomist than axegrindist, right?). If there was no shortage of the Anti Cimex/Extreme Noise Terror hybrid in Sweden, the mid-tempo crusty school was curiously relatively absent (not that the genre has ever been really widespread though) or fell, willingly I would suppose, in the death-metal trap. Even today, only Swordwielder seem to have been stung by the Amebix virus.    

But back to Jesusexercise. There are three songs on this self-released record. On the A side, the eponymous track is a long anti-capitalist song, while on the B side the song "Revenge" (my favourite) deals with the need for the poor to fight back against their oppressors (class war or what?) and "Sick & holy" is an anti-religion song. The writing style is quite direct and you can feel the anger and the angst. Now, about the music. To put it bluntly, it is fantastic. Amebix's "Arise!" and Antisect's "In darkness" are obvious starting points. The sound is heavy and crushing but not in a metal way. The mid-tempo Antisect and Anti-System numbers might be good comparisons, a little like Bad Influence's heaviest moments. But what makes this band so unique is twofold: first, there is a strong Rudimentary Peni influence that gives the songs a very tortured and tormented feel (oddly the record is not too far from what Peni would record later, "Archaic" for instance), and second, the voice of the female singer. She manages to sound both pissed off and creepy, mad and bent on grinding the enemy. If Amy from Nausea had tried to sing like Blinko from Peni, I guess we'd have had something like Jesusexercise's vocals.

On the whole, this is a superb record and a rare example of a Swedish band influenced by the early Peaceville sound, but the band's name and the choice of the cover (the American eagle with missiles in its claws) didn't really reflect the content and hence didn't ultimately help the band. This is a shame because it really is that good and likely to be found in 1£ record bins all over the world.