Sunday 16 June 2013

"Never again" compilation Ep 1996

Last week, I picked a rather unusual Finnish punk album, far from the kaaotic noise of the Propaganda legion. Today, however, I am back with a more classic-sounding record from Finland. "Never again" is an eight-band compilation Ep and was a benefit record for the German Autonome Antifas who were facing trials in 1996 and almost got labelled as a terrorist organization by the German state. Although I don't necessarily agree with everything that group had to say, their analysis of the links between capitalism and fascism, their opposition to class justice and their cool-looking helmets make them worthy of interest, without mentioning that they pioneered the black block tactics by using them systematically and rigirously during demonstrations and actions. But I am not here to talk about the merits, legacy or flaws of the German Antifas.

Terminal Sound Nuisance's French readers will undoubtedly know that already, but a few days ago, a (very) young student involved with a radical antifascist collective from Paris and its suburbs was beaten to death by neo-nazis. The kid was barely 19. Now, I am certainly no expert in antifascism, my knowledge is limited and I am sure that you will be able to find many enlightening comments about this murder elsewhere. Sadly, the far-right is on the rise, not only in France, but pretty much everywhere in Europe. The media (of the bourgeois kind if this even needs to be mentioned) were quick to fake their outrage at this assassination and to claim that this was unacceptable in our society and that the Nation, the Republic and our Great Democracy shall not tolerate extremist violence and so on. The very same media promoting and spreading far-right, capitalistic ideas on a daily basis. The very same media who bluntly claimed two days later that fascist violence and antifascist violence are  similar since they are the product of political "extremists". The sad thing is that many people seem to think that way, even in our punk circles. Although I don't condone all the tactics used by certain antifascist groups and I do find their approach narrow at times, it will never ever be comparable to fascist violence, and as much as I love old UK anarchopunk, I don't think that "violence is violence" all the time. Systematically equating violence with "extremism" or fascism or any other buzzword signifying evil completely discards the undrlying motivations and is mostly intellectual laziness. But I digress.

As mentioned earlier, this record was an antifascist record from the mid 90's and this theme runs through all the songs (as the cover subtly suggests). Apparently, it took three years for this record to see the light of day or rather the smoky and damp ceiling of a squatted venue. Each band added its own artwork and lyrics and there is even a (rather horribly disturbing) poster in the record. This sort of truly DIY endeavours always leaves a whiff of the 90's anarchopunk spirit that I always find inspiring. First we have Totuus, a band active from the mid 90's to the mid 00's and did three Ep's for Fight records. They played fast Finnish hardcore with distorted guitars, angry but distinguishable vocals and appropriately short songs. Nothing ground-breaking but undeniably potent. Next is Wind of Pain from Helsinki who, despite the Bastard reference did not play Japanese hardcore but crust punk in its rough and ready version as far as the present song, "Frightened by sirens", is concerned. Not the most original band but they had that typical 90's crust sound that I love so dearly, and would add in subsequent records some great crunchy metal riffs and a more polished production that gave them a cold, bleak but still really aggressive sound (to be stored in the "crust from the wood" category for sure). Here, the song is reminiscent of the mighty Hiatus and Warcollapse but also of Masskontroll, especially the guitar sound. Wind of Pain were active in the mid-late 90's and quite prolific: an Lp, a split tape with Disclose (now I got you interested, didn't I?), two Ep's and two split Ep's. There were members of Rytmihäiriö, Força Macabra, Kuolema and, later, the brilliant Sharpeville (if I am not mistaken). An often overlooked band that deserves to be (re)discovered.

Hiastus follow with a fantastic, albeit unoriginal, antinazi crustcore song with classic dual vocals (the legendary trade-off style: "screech and grunt") and a sloppy sound. They really remind me of Amen, who were the Finnish answer to Extreme Noise Terror, and that's a really good thing indeed. I don't know if their moniker was a tribute to Hiatus but if it were then I would love them even more for that! Hiastus also released a split Ep with Totuus. After this slice of unhealthy dreadlocked mayhem, there is a song from Tuomiopäivän Lapset (whom from now on and for obvious reasons, I will refer to as TL). I must confess that I don't much about them and apart from their split Ep with Disrupt, their large discography is unknown to me. They seem to have been quite active in the 90's (as early as 1991 in fact), had common members with noise-makers Sorto and, judging from the present track, played fast and furious hardcore with attitude, and yes, this is another antinazi song (a fitting theme for this Ep). Força Macabra are next and they are probably the most famous band on this Ep. I am hardly the FM expert but I got to see them live a couple of years ago and they were impressive and fun to watch. For those of you who don't know the band, FM is a 20 year old bunch of Finnish old-timers (some of them also involved in Selfish among many other bands) playing beefy, energetic and catchy Brazilian hardcore. In fact, they even sing in Portuguese, tour in Brazil regularly and have done splits with Armagedom and Ulster. The rumour has it that the lads can play football fairly well and are decent samba-dancers but I have yet to see to be convinced. Joking aside, FM is a good band, one that you can rely on in terms of fast and punchy hardcore punk with a good attitude. The song they included on "Never again" was recorded live and is a heavy mid-tempo number called "Cansado".

Fast, raw and angry are the key words for the next song by Kirous. Less than one minute of chaotic and noisy hardcore from a band with a decent resume (they did splits with Sharpeville and Silna Wola) that I unfortunately don't know well. Their musical influence sounds pretty local (especially the production) and "Unohdetto tottus" is about not giving the fascists the right to express themselves and how fascism always eventually serve the powerful. Good, no-frills punk here. Next is Ghost of Mankind and I have to admit that they had won me over even before I listened to their song: their name is taken from an Antisect song and they use the Icons of Filth font (I am a sentimental fool, I know). So, do Ghost of Mankind sound like the bands they are winking at? Not really but they are still very good in a Dirge-meet-Insurrection-at-a-Warfear-rehearsal kind of way. Nothing earth-shattering but it does the job: distorted guitars, chaotic drum beats, reverb on the vocals, filthy sound and punk as fuck atmosphere. Another antinazi song which happens to be the only known song of Ghost of Mankind. Finally, "Never again" closes with Uutuus, a band known for keeping the Kaaos spirit alive and kicking (and vomiting probably) in the 90's and this song will not disappoint. 48 seconds long, raw sound, spontaneous song-writing: pure punk-rock. Contrary to a lot of current bands who try hard to sound spontaneous (spot the oxymoron), Uutuus sound like they just went in the studio after a week-end on the boozer, recorded 10 song in 15 minutes before leaving for more booze.

A good compilation that lies on the raw and noisy side of punk-rock and a good political initiative as well. So, is it time for the volume 2?

Never again!                      

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