Saturday, 27 October 2012

State of Filth / Anarchy Spanky split cd 2003

I suppose one could find some similarities between the Mortal Terror/Aural corpse split Lp and today's record, the State of Filth/Anarchy Spanky split cd. After all, both splits are made up of one band playing old school anarchopunk sounding music (Mortal Terror and Anarchy Spanky), while the other is an all out crusty massacre (Aural Corpse and State of Filth). And thinking about it now, my favourite splits are those that have two (or more) bands that don't sound the same and yet are pulling in the same direction. In this spirit, the bands wrote this at the bottom of their thank lists: "Over the years the development of the punk scene has led to the creation of many sub-groups and unfortunately, divisions between people who share a common goal. With this release Anarchy Spanky and State of Filth bring together two totally different styles of punk in unity of the DIY ethos. Enjoy!" Now, that's definitely the state of mind I love!

I know cd's are uncool now. Whereas tapes were looked down upon only a few years ago, they seem to be all the rage now and I have recently seen a band that had their brand new album on vinyl for 12 euros and on cd for just a fiver! It was the exact same record and yet the vinyl version was twice as expensive. While I do prefer the vinyl format to the cd, I find this disdain for cd's snobbish and elitist. And don't get me started on the new trend on making tapes again. But anyway, the State of Filth/Anarchy Spanky is not even a proper cd: it is a fucking cdr! Shock! Horror! Disgrace! Joking aside, the object is as DIY as you can get, you can tell it was a small project done with the heart and that is really what matters. It was released in 2003 on Why Records from Yorkshire and FCR, the label done by the Ripping Thrash bloke, a fantastic, long-running DIY hardcore punk zine.

SOF were from Preston, Lancashire and must have formed around 1997. I actually got to see them in february 2004 at a hardcore fest at the 1in12 Club in Bradford. The band was fronted by Wayne Southworth, who also used to sing for the Blood Sucking Freaks, the Devils and, of course, for Doom in the late 90's (which I also had the chance to see with Wayne on vocals at the 1in12 in early 2005) and let me tell you he always displayed great showmanship, making ugly faces and looking mean and demented. I am not sure if there were other ex Blood Sucking Freaks' members in SOF, but it really sounds like there could be as I can really picture SOF being the sonic continuation of BSN. SOF played fast, heavy and direct crustcore with a classic dual vocals attack. There are also old-school grindcore influences on some of their songs, like early Rot or Terrorizer. It is absolutely brutal, crushing and angry. What makes is so good is that it is not overproduced, but it is not fakely raw and distorted either. Doom would obviously be a good point of comparison - though SOF are noticeably faster - or a more grinding Excrement of War, Deformed Conscience or even modern bands like Massgrave from Canada.

There is a cheeky, snotty feel to the songs as well. The lads are pissed (both literally and figuratively) but also a bit deranged, as if the hardly hidden madness of our modern societies was really taking its toll. I really love the lyrics and they only stress the mad aura of the music. There are 29 songs, so I am not going to comment on all of them but my favourites are: "Whatever happened to the wankers", a song about "hardcore superstars"; "Poncified I", an anti-emo song; "Shitlist" is a rude but glorious attack on the decadent lifestyle of the toffs; "Shitend of the stick" describes the anger and frustration fuelled by having no money and working shit jobs while the rich "wine and dine"; and "Royal assassin" is about the hypocrisy of the aristocracy and the sycophancy and submissive behaviour of those who admire them.

Anarchy Spanky is another kind of animal as they played in the spiky punk league.  They were from the Manchester area and were around in the early 2000's. Unfortunately for me, when I lived in Manchester during the school year 2003/04, they had already split up and this record is therefore a postumous release as far as AS are concerned.

I have always been a sucker for female-fronted British punk-rock so I was bound to love AS and I have to say their music is both familiar and yet quite unique. First, AS were not a one-trick pony as throughout their seven songs they use several rhythms from fast ("Mobile Ho") to bouncy and mid-paced ("Smack your vein"), and there is even a rather sad and melancholy ballad song in there ("Parent reject"). The guitar has a thick, earthy sound and there are some great melodic leads as well. Straight-up punk-rock may look like a simple genre to play, but contrary to louder punk styles where you can hide behind a wall of noise and aggression, you have to come up with solid tunes when playing old-school punk-rock and AS certainly understood that because each song is quite memorable. What really makes the band stand out is the peculiar voice of the singer. It is raucous and powerful but still remains tuneful. AS reminds me of Scattergun, Slaughter of the Innocent and Combat Shock on that level, with a bit of Potential Threat for the vocals.

The band's lyrics dealt with rather original subjects too: sadomasochism ("To satisfy a sick mind"), sexual predators and perversion ("Black box"), hypocrisy and fake friendship ("Mobile Ho"), neglected children and Parent Reject Syndrome ("Parent reject"), great sex ("Give me more bliss"), the sickness and shallowness of plastic surgery ("Designer vagina") and the danger of heroin abuse ("Smack your veins I'll smack your face"). Somewhat unusual topics for some of them but you can tell that the songs come from the heart.

As for the aesthetics, the cover is an old drawing depicting an apparently respectable bearded old man on all four being riden by a maiden while she whips his bum. The backcover is a pixelated reproduction of an old war painting representing an army charging and killing commoners. To be honest, I don't really see the connection between both pictures. Any idea?

State of Spanky       

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