Friday 12 October 2012

Sanctus Iuda / Regeneracion split Ep 1997

Now that's an odd one. So odd in fact that it doesn't even appear on the almost always comprehensive Discogs (saying this the Screaming Holocaust Ep doesn't either). I got this Ep for a couple of euros a while back and it features several elements that makes a great record: it is an international split Ep; both bands have a lot to say politically; the bands don't sound alike; it is as DIY as you can get. Let's see in more details where this record comes from.

First, I don't know for sure when this was released as there is no information about recording dates inside the record. I know both bands were very active between 1995 and 1997. The Sanctus Iuda tracks are actually also included on a tiny cd (by size) called "Jap Pressing" that contains all the band's songs that appeared on splits (with Sarcasm, Sharpeville and Regeneracion). It says that the Sanctus Iuda side of our split was recorded in June 1996, so I assume the actual record must have been released in 1997. It was put out by Cryptas Records from Mexico, which makes sense since Cryptas released all the Regeneracion records along with a few other absolutely brilliant bands like Desobediencia Civil, Tortura Auditiva, Apatia-No, Coaccion or All Systems Fail. Now that the record looks a bit less mysterious, let's have a look at its content.

Sanctus Iuda were a Polish band from Bialystok that seemed to have been really active in the mid 90's. They were very much part of the eurocrust wave both in terms of sound and lyrics. Though this kind of music appears to be quite unfashionable nowadays, I am personally very fond of it. There were a couple of great crusty Polish bands by then like Homomilitia (arguably the best one), Toxic Bonkers, Silna Wola, Stradoom Terror or Enough! and Sanctus Iuda had everything you expect from a good political Polish crust punk outfit. Sanctus Iuda were not as metallic as Homomilitia but harder-hitting and rougher than Fleas and Lice. Their songs are not really original per se but they are certainly played with heart and guts and that's really all that matters in the end. Overall, the sound is pretty raw and some great riffs will inform you that SI were above your average crusty bollocks. The singer is snotty and pretty angry and at times a second, much gruffier voice reminds us that indeed Hiatus had already toured Poland by then. I really enjoy Sanctus Iuda and an Lp has been reissued in recent years so you should still be able to find it. Lyrically, the band was firmly rooted in the anarcho side of punk. Their side of the record is entitled "The heart stops beating" and it aptly reflects the recurrent theme of their three songs: ecology. The first one is about the industry destroying the Earth/heart; the second one, "McMurder" is an attack against McDonald's and the food industry and how they sacrifice the environment on the altar of profit; the last one is an anti-capitalist song that depicts how land theft in the thrid world creates hunger and poverty. Joyful stuff as usual. The artwork on SI's side is dark and nature-themed and reinforces their message. The band also lists a number of Polish ecological and animal rights groups that you could get in touch with.

If Sanctus Iuda lied on the raw side of the punk moon, Regeneracion lived on the rough and chaotic side of Mars. I have no idea whether the band went for the noisy path on purpose but whatever their intent was, it worked. But it was not noisiness for noisiness' sake, as the band were very serious politically and indeed had a genuine revolutionary message. The term "regeneracion" was the name of Mexican revolutionary Ricardo Flores Magon's anarchist newpaper so I suppose it gives us some clues as to what the band believed in. I wish I had the lyrics of Regeneracion's songs but they are not included in the record. Instead there are two texts. The first one, "Vivir para ser libres, o morir para dejar de ser esclavos", deals with legality and illegality and how respecting the law and being a revolutionary are antithetic. The second, longer text is called "Bienvenido al infierno neo-liberal" (which is also the title of Regeneracion's side of the split). I wish I understood Spanish better but from what I can read, it is very much a call to action against capitalism and the state that supports it, basically an incitement to get off our arses, stop being apathetic and afraid and have a go against the laws that oppress us. Epic stuff. I am not sure however if the band chose the best media to get their message across as Regeneracion played really gruffy and chaotic crust punk, which is perfect for me, but might scare the average Manu Chao fan. Oh well. The cover is a pciture of a military vehicle driving by a young Indigenous kid, possibly in Chiapas as the time periods would indicate. Musically, Regeneracion lies between Brujeria (especially in the vocals and the intonation) and early Doom/Hiatus. The vocals are very deep and threatening and the guitar has a glorious fuzzy sound. It also reminds me of Mass Genocide Process, Embittered or Despite at times, but that's probably just because of the roughness. With no lyrics and a wild pig grunting in Spanish behind the microphone, I confess I have troubles getting what the songs are actually about. I think the first one (I don't even have the songs' titles!) is about the frontier behind Mexico and the U$, the second one may be about animal suffering and fuck knows what the last one is about. Don't let this put you off though, Regeneracion are one of the best Mexican crust band ever and the chaotic nature of their sound reflects their anger.

On the whole a great split and a perfect example of an international punk collaboration. Lovers of the 90's crust sound will be delighted.

Poland meets Mexico          

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