Sunday 29 September 2013

Dirge "Scarred forever" Lp 2005

Before I commence ranting, the numerous TSN followers (we've just reached the million) will have noticed that there have been some troubles with my download links lately. In fact, Rapidshare decided out of the blue to slow down considerably the downloading speed (unless you buy a rapidshare account obviously). Since I was already paying for my Rapidshare account and did not see much point in keeping it if people had to wait several hours to download one Ep, I decided to switch to another server (yet again). As a consequence, I will have to re-upload all the files and it might take some time. I will do it progressively but anyone wants to download a specific file, just leave a comment and I will get to it promptly (or give a spirited try). Now, let's talk about music, shall we?

When you see such a cover, what is your first impression? 1: A lame d-beat band from Sweden? 2: Harsh crustcore from Slovakia? 3: Embarassing metal-punk? 1: Wrong (thanks fuck). 2: Wrong (but nothing wrong with Slovakian crust punk though). 3: Wrong (we don't do cvlt mvsic here). I don't know who picked the cover for this record but it was not a wise choice, especially since there is much more appropriate, relevant artwork in the thick booklet. Neither crust, metal nor d-beat, Dirge was a noisy hardcore punk band from Leicester.

The band started in 1983 and split up at the beginning of 1986 (though the band reached its apex in 1984). Dirge was made up of members from Vile Bodies and Rotting corpse, two obscure local bands that I really wish I knew (but not having recorded anything if I understand correctly, it is very unlikely to happen, isn't it?). What is quite formidable with Dirge is that they perfectly bridge the gap between fairly typical, animal rights-oriented, Conflicty anarchopunk and the tumultuously noist noise of Chaos UK and Disorder. Not unlike early Anti-System, early Legion of Parasites or even Wretched, but sloppier, more basic and more distorted. To be even more accurate, play the first side of Antisect's "Peace is better than a place in history" and, simultaneously, play Disorder's "Under the scalpel blade". Dirge feels like they were a serious band as they embraced the notion of punk as a vehicle for protest, but they were still, unashamedly, also very PUNK (and actually, they looked really punk too!).

Dirge's music was solidly influenced by the Bristol school (you won't be too surprised to learn that Dirge has shared the stage with Disorder, Chaos UK, Anti-System or Wretched) but, contrary to many current bands trying too hard to emulate that sound, there was no calculation on their part. They were genuinely shitty musicians with shitty instruments recording with shitty gears and a shitty 4-tracks, and that's why their songs, 30 years later, are so bloody great. Sloppy, shambolic and yet extremely catchy too. The song "The right to refuse" is an unsung anthem (which was actually included on a Mortarhate compilation) replete with anger, outrage and the unshakable desire to make a stand. The furious two-vocals attack works terrifically and sounds suitably snotty and aggressive. I would give it an A on the Antisect-live-in-Coventry-1982 scale, a highly-coveted grade I seldom give. The guitar is both VERY distorted and untuned so that only the most careful listeners will be able to spot an actual chord. The bass is muddy, all over the place and drives the whole chaotic mess, as the genre requires. The lyrics attest that the band was really into animal rights, vegetarianism and hunt-sabbing but you will also find other regular among the menu: war, nuclear war and shit propaganda in the media.

I really like the aesthetics of the band and the think booklet has everything you have ever dreamt to know about the band (you may want to read the chapter dedicated to Dirge in "Trapped in a scene" for good measure). You have a band's history, interviews, a retrospective view of the band, pictures, flyers, lyrics (with Japanese translations). That's how reissues should be done. The Lp includes the "Right to refuse"'s 1984 demo and a live set of the same year which saw the band covering... a Skum Dribblurzzz' song ("Walk tall")!!! No shit! They don't even earn punk points with that one, they can have the whole pack of points! Former members of Dirge currently play in the Wankys and Threat of War, and the bass player, Debbie, even played in the 96 reformation of Dirt (beside doing a stint with Suicidal Supermarket Trolleys and, if I'm not mistaken, Zero Tolerance). Old punks still into it: what's not to love? "Scarred forever" was released on famous Japanese label Crust War, which was quite a surprise for me, as the label only deals with Japanese bands (Warfear, another 80's noisy English band being the other exception). As I have said, this is a great-looking record that would have deserved a different cover. But since I am not one to judge a book by its cover, I finally got over it (sort of...).      

Sunday 22 September 2013

Rapidshare's shenanigans

I have just realized that none of the links of Terminal Sound Nuisance works. Rapidshare completely changed the way it works overnight and made it a bit more difficult to share links (hence the now slightly ironic use of the word "rapid").

I will try to post new working links as soon as possible, but if you want to download a specific recording and see that something is not quite right, please leave a comment and I will get off my arse to replace it.

Saturday 21 September 2013

Machine Gun Etiquette "S/t" Ep 2002

Almost two weeks since my last post... Time does fly... And actually this one is going to be short since I don't have much to say about the band and, for once, I will let the music do the ranting.

This Ep is just high quality old-school punk-rock. I could stop the review here but then I guess some convincing might be needed since Machine Gun Etiquette have never exactly been the most hyped band of their time. MGE were from Glasgow and formed in the mid 90's. They were touring mates of Ex-Cathedra with whom they shared a member (re-reading the Ex-Cathedra chapter today I realized that there was an ex-Dreadful member in the band: from monstrously chaotic grindcore to ska-punk... The amazing world of punk!). In fact, MGE's music is not so dissimilar to Ex-Cathedra's punkier moments. Raspy and snotty vocals, good bass lines, super catchy chorus that you instantly remember and shout along to. Quality stuff, I told you. MGE brings to mind some of the older punk bands like SLF or UK Subs but with the added snottiness and aggression of Mayhem, Uproar, Chaotic Youth or Last Rites. I personally see them in the same light as the other great tuneful punk-rock bands of the 90's in Britain, bands like Red Flag 77, Zero Tolerance, Suicidal Supermarket Trolleys, The Nerves or even the records External Menace did during that decade (and they are top notch records for sure).

From what I can gather, MGE were definitely a political band who happened to also love the funnier side of punk-rock and this shows in their lyrics. The A side was recorded in 1999 while the other one is two years older. The first song is actually my favourite and may even be the best MGE's song ever. "Hate this city" is a brutally honest, hopeless and vivid depiction of life in Glasgow, a city famous for its violence and its cut-throat alleys. The sound on this one is terrific and the chorus are infectious (though this could be said for the three songs of this Ep). The introductory bass melody hooks you right away and takes you for a ride during the whole song. Despite lyrics about alienation in a grey and ruthless city, you will find yourself humming to this little wonder all day. There are two other songs on the B side, "18P1984" and "Joe Public", and although the sound is not as good, the song-writing and the tunes are solid enough to make thoroughly enjoyable. "18P1984" is a tongue in cheek one about a punk musician who is only in it for the drugs and the sex and doesn't understand why he cannot write a decent song. "Joe Public" is about censorship and propaganda in the media and how we are kept in line with stupid and superficial news while the real issues are silenced.

This Ep was the last MGE's record and it is probably their best one (though I must confess that the cover is pretty terrible... Seriously, nuns with guns?). It was released on Gas Records, which is, I believe, Slime's record label (or at least a label closely related to them). Some of the members of Machine Gun Etiquette went on to play in Scunnered, probably among other bands.


Sunday 8 September 2013

Blowhard "Harsh" Ep 1994

When one reflects upon good Canadian crusty punk music, Montreal often comes to mind. And the past twenty years have shown that seeing Montreal as Canada's crust capital makes sense. This scene has produced numerous crust bands (like the much underrated Global Holocaust, System Shit, Human Greed, Hellbound, Disagree or in more recent times the Sacrilege cover-band After The Bombs) that would make a caveman feel like singing along. Similarly, Massgrave - live, probably the best ENT/Disrupt-style crustcore band around - managed to put Vancouver on the map of all lovers of bear-like vocals. But Toronto? Even though I know little about the punk scene there, it is not a city I usually associate with patches, a dodgy hygiene or sloppy "Police bastards" covers. If it had not been for Blowhard, you would think from the outside that it was a crust-free area in the 90's, quite odd indeed when you consider the dozens of active crusty bands in North America then.

Having released only one Ep in 1994, blowhard is unlikely to go down in history as a crucial band, even in the punk scale of things. Interestingly, the band that rose from Blowhard's ashes in the late 90's was much more successful: Legion 666, the band that played heavy, Hellhammer-influenced crusty hardcore punk before it was fashionable and infected by the Metal Punx Cheese Squad. If you listen to Blowhard while keeping in mind the power of Legion 666, you will be able to see the connection. Of course, Bloward is much less metal and more direct than Legion. Undeniably part of the 90's crust wave in terms of sound and production, they are nevertheless not your average, enjoyable Doom clone. In fact, I would venture that they were equally influenced by Hiatus and Crude SS, with a dash of early Onslaught (and I can't help spotting similarities with Global Holocaust as well, but it may be just me). Sounds good, doesn't it? The guitar sound is very thick, fuzzy yet groovy, not unlike early Doom's, the bass does the work it is expected, the drumming is powerful and relatively accurate and the vocals don't sound forceful or over-the-top but still deliver the aggression and anger needed. It is actually a pretty good record and the lyrics are pretty smart too, definitely above the cliched apocalytpic, pseudo misanthropic haikus that sometimes pass for lyrics: songs about police brutality, pro-choice, green capitalism being still capitalism, male insecurities, the need to see ecology as a global issue rather than solely a national one and feeling angry and frustrated because we are part of, and even contribute to, a social system that we hate.

I am not really into the record's cover to be honest. First, it is misleading as pictures of difigured faces pretty much indicate the goregrind territory, a place where people with decent music tastes like myself don't like to tread. Second, and more importantly, the choice of a gory imagery doesn't really make sense because it is not backed by a commentary from the band. It is gore for gore's sake which is somewhat different to using extreme images or pictures in order to make a political point. The artwork inside is much more to my liking and actually reflects well what the band was all about. The lesson here: don't judge a book or a Blowhard record by its cover.


Sunday 1 September 2013

Resist And Exist "Human, Earth, Animal Liberation (HEAL)" live cd 2003

Resist And Exist is certainly one of the most politically genuine and active US anarchopunk band ever. Although it is hard to tell from a European point of view, I suppose they have not been as globally influential as bands like Aus-Rotten or Resist (but then R&E unfortunately never toured outside of the Americas). For some reason, I often think about these bands together, as some sort of unholy American anarcho trinity that really epitomizes what US anarchopunk was all about (not that there weren't other worthy anarchist punk bands in the US in the 90's (Antiproduct, Mankind? or Civil Disobedience were all top notch too). R&E rose out of the prolific late 80's/early 90's Californian anarchopunk and crust scene that birthed such terrific bands as Apocalypse, Glycine Max or A//Solution. Remarkably, R&E survived all the trends and the decades and are still active today, although they don't play as much as they used to. In fact, along with the very under-appreciated Armistice, they are the last band standing of that once glorious scene.

The R&E story is a little complicated but here is what I understood from my research. They originally formed in 1990 in LA and appeared to have been quite close to Media Children, an older fellow anarcho band whose sound was not dissimilar to Welsh band Symbol of Freedom and with whom R&E shared a member. The name is a reference to an early Antisect song, an influence that will always be felt in R&E's music, ethics and aesthetics. This early incarnation of R&E existed for about two years and released two demos, "Music for social change" in 1991 and "The oppressors" in 1992, and they even toured with Total Chaos (back when they were still part of the SoCal anarcho scene and covered Antisect and Disorder instead of doing cheesy music videos). At the time, R&E's music wasn't as heavy as it is now and was closer to local bands like A State of Mind or aforementioned Media Children than the heavy metallic crust punk that a lot of bands went for. Heavily influenced by bands such as Chumbawamba, Alternative or Lost Cherrees, the presence of a great female vocalist gave the band this old-school British sound that I am a sucker for. They also had a couple of faster songs that reflected a love for early Antisect/Anti-System, Potential Threat or, on their own side of the pond, Iconoclast and Crucifix. In 1992, the band split up. Later on in the mid-90's, some members did Autonomy, a band that can be seen as a continuation of the first R&E and an introduction to the final version. Autonomy must have stopped playing around 1996 and in 1997, the new R&E appeared and released their first Ep, "Korean protest".

The "HEAL" cd contains a live performance recorded in San Fransisco. Although I have never had the joy of witnessing the band live, judging from the pictures and videos floating around the internet, R&E gigs are proper anarcho feasts: banners with political slogans, signs, videos, some stage-acting as well, in the great tradition of Crass and Chumba. The cd was released in 2003 but it is safe to say that the recording is probably 2 or 3 years older as the line-up still had members that left just before the 2002's split with Phobia. Beside, the setlist is entirely made up of songs from the "Kwangju" Lp that was released in 2000 so situating the gig in 2000 or 2001 makes sense (now, that's academic precision for ya!). Sonically, R&E were not quite as metallic as they are today but were harder-hitting than in the late 90's. This is bass-driven, heavy hardcore punk reminiscent of Antisect/Anti-System (but with a distinct 90's feel), with heavy mid-tempo moments like Exit-Stance or Aus-Rotten, and epic metallic bits that remind me of Nausea and indicate the direction that the band would take for their next recordings. The sound is quite good, you can hear everything, and you know what, maybe it is too good and some extra roughness would have made it sound less polished. I wouldn't consider this cd a crucial R&E record but it is certainly one worth listening to if you are into the band and too far away to actually see them.

Lyrically and politically, R&E are one of a kind. Definitely more radical and politically motivated than the myriads of bands happy with paraphrasing Disclose, R&E deal with actual political issues and, seeing themselves as anarchist revolutionaries (that's what they claim during the gig anyway), are not afraid to advocate direct actions and even armed struggle (the song "Aeons upon aeons"). They have a song about a Black Panther political prisoner, one about race and self-hatred, one in Korean about the Kwangju uprising, an interesting piece of revolutionary history that is largely ignored (learning history with punk-rock: what else?). You also have a song about animal rights, a topic that is usually seen nowadays as being quite clichéd but one that the band has always been very concerned and, above all, very active about. You may not agree with everything the band says but, at least, it will provoke a reaction, make you think about real issues. R&E have always genuinely seen punk as "a movement for social change" and their lyrics reflect this idea. It may be an idealistic idea and cynical, bitter bastards like me would even say it is a cheesy one (even "soy-cheese" cheesy). Nevertheless, it is a beautiful, powerful one and it makes me feel good about myself. Punk will not change the world, but it could help changing it, be part of a more global revolutionary movement, or something epic like that. I'd rather listen to a band who believe in this ideal than to meaningless indie-rock or pseudo misanthropic blackened crust or whatever.

This particular cd was a benefit for an animal shelter in Arizona and other worthy causes that have to do with ecology and animal liberation. It was released on Mediattack Records, an obscure label that I know one other release from (the Kismet Hardcore album) but apparently did some more stuff as well (not only punk-rock though).

Now to serious matters: who's buying a ticket to LA?