Thursday, 12 October 2017

Kids of the 90's (part 1): Dischange / Excrement of War split Ep, 1991

Still bollox but still here. 

I have not written anything for the past month because - in all honesty - I was clueless about what to do next. The anarchopunk series had left me drained. I was lost, cold, battered, little more than a pathetic, staggering version of myself, my good looks and proverbial biting wit all but gone. Remember when Austin Powers loses his mojo in one of the movies? Well that was me, only I have got much better clothes and hair (not too sure about the teeth but let's not focus on that). I still had many ideas for Terminal Sound Nuisance but suddenly none of them sounded fun. Sad emoji face indeed. So I took some time off and traveled to South-East Asia in order to find myself and take selfies in front of neat-looking temples. Well, not really actually, I just locally boozed my way through the month, waiting to be struck by inspiration. To no avail. 

Until one day, as I was coming home after a rather enjoyable gig, I just looked through my record collection without anything in mind, or rather, with a completely open one. I realized that a significant portion of it was made up of 90's records, most of which no longer seemed to trigger general punk enthusiasm nowadays (the average Discogs price is usually a good indicator, albeit a fairly depressing one) but were still lovable and even - in some cases - genuinely good, to me anyway. After a good hour of mumbling to myself "Who still gives a shit about this one? And about that one? And what about this little bugger, I don't even recall buying it..." I took a meditative break and tried to remember and reconnect with the core values of the blog (as stated in "The Terminal Sound Nuisance Constitution of 2012"), which can basically be summarized as lengthy talks about bands and records that deserve to be talked about but are only marginally so in our culture of cultural overconsumption, floundering attention span and neglect of punk as a critical discursive art form.  The solution became clear, obvious. Weren't the 90's supposed to be fashionable now? I remembered seeing a lot of lads with typical 90's boy bands haircut recently, which of course I took as a good omen and a sign. I had to respond quickly and accordingly. 

As a result ten loud 90's split records, mostly Ep's but not exclusively, that no one really cares about anymore were carefully selected in order to exemplify the decade's specificities. Expect sloppy, crusty hardcore from the most important common denominator: genuineness. 

And let's start with a dischargy split Ep from 1991 between Dischange and Excrement of War. If you are a consistent TSN reader (and why wouldn't you be? It's an ace blog!), you know that I have always been thoroughly obsessed with British crust and hardcore and punk in general and it would come as no surprise to read that I originally bought the Ep for EOW and not for Dischange. When I got it (in the mid 00's), I don't think I had ever listened to Dischange. I knew Meanwhile through compilation tracks but was unaware that it was the same band under a different name. At that time, with a few exceptions, I was suspicious of the D-beat genre and honestly did not rate it very high. I certainly did not see Discharge as "a D-beat band", that would have been irrelevant and anachronistic, since the genre's essence lies on the repetition and emulation of vintage Discharge (could 2017 Discharge qualify as a D-beat band, like a contextualized recreation of oneself?). I thought that Disclose were too noisy for their own good but at least had that going for them, that Disaster were lovingly goofy because they sounded just like Discharge and that Disfear sounded like a bloody steamroller, but that was that. The Dis is getting pathetic Ep from Active Minds (the first one I bought from them) certainly had a lot to do with my wariness of the D, which was quite ironic since the Ep was very much about the 90's D-beat wave, which I was too young too have known anyway. But still, I must admit that their anti-D-beat rant (which may actually have been written about Dischange if I remember well) did leave a mark on my young mind at the time and definitely made me unimpressively look at Dischange. 

Older and wiser (?) now, I must say that I really enjoy the Dischange songs from this Ep and the band's relevance to the genre cannot be underestimated. They formed in the late 80's (not sure exactly when but their first demo was recorded in 1989) with Jallo, then drummer for the mighty No Security, on the guitar and vocals, and can be considered to be the first proper D-beat band, with the drive to sound and look JUST LIKE Discharge it entails, along with contemporaries Disaster (if Discard did lay the template for the dimension of Discharge worship, they never aimed at sounding just like Discharge, neither did Disattack and they were far more obscure anyway). The three songs included on the split were Dischange's first vinyl appearance and can be thought to be perfectly representative, if not foundational, of what the Swedish D-beat orthodoxy would grow to be in the following decades, with that crushing, pummeling, precise relentlessness, the monstrous riffs and the harsh vocals. The songs "After-war scars" and "Dead end" clearly fall in the Hear nothing category but my favourite is "On knees" whose groovy bass line is gloriously reminiscent of Why (I like my D-beat with some groove). The production is just fine for the genre, powerful but not too heavy as I am one to believe that there has to be an element of urgency and rawness in the D for it to be appealing (I often find Swedish D-beat to be too tight but that's not the case here, probably because it is an early instance of this peculiar variety). Dischange also released a split Ep with CFDL the following year and a full Lp in 1993 that I find a bit hard to sit through to be honest. They then changed their name to Meanwhile (and if you care to look at the label on Dischange's side it actually reads "Dischange - Meanwhile" which could indicate that they intended to call their side of the split Meanwhile... or not, it is a wild guess) which was a good call. Not only did they arguably get better during their Meanwhile era, but if the idea to swap a letter in the word "discharge" in order to obtain a new Dis-name is kinda funny, its realization is more embarrassing. 

On the other side of the split are a band whose name always makes me very self-conscious when I am wearing the shirt (I actually got into a needlessly long and unpleasant discussion with an odoriferous man about the use of the word "excrement" printed on clothes on the metro once... believe me, you do not want to know, but it was a long ride): Excrement of War, from Dudley, not too far from Birmingham if you are asking yourself. This lot were possibly the most intentionally Swedish of all the English hardcore bands of the early 90's with references to Anti-Cimex and Shitlickers even in the participants' nicknames. However, little do people know (and I only do because I am a loyal Glasper reader) that EOW originally started in 1990 as a boisterous, inept-sounding but cider-loving Chaos UK/Disorder band, before Stick (from Doom) joined. EOW was formed by Tom (of Genital Deformities), Rat (ex Indecent Assault and the greatly-named Depth Charge) and one Wonka with the idea of playing noisy Bristol punk, and although it did not work out, they still recorded a demo with that sound, which I would be very curious to hear indeed. Anyway, the proper EOW, the one we all (?) remember really started when Stick joined on drums after Doom went on a hiatus and the band decided to play punchy, punk-as-fuck Swedish hardcore with gruff vocals. This Ep was their first vinyl appearance, although the four EOW songs were originally part of a demo that Stick sent to Finn Records (the recording also included a Doom cover entitled "Relief (part 3)" which did not make it on the Ep but at least answers the fateful question of "but who did the part 3 then?"). 

If Doom initially wanted to be Discard - a noble endeavour in and of itself - you might imagine that EOW wanted to be Protes Bengt, in the sense that in their early days the band shared the same over-the-top urgent enthusiasm, that effective hardcore punk simplicity and straight-forward impactive crudity (yes, you may lol). Basically, you can tell that the trio had fun recording the songs and I would argue that the chaotic vibe that permeates the four songs, one that is also not quite unlike mid-80's Chaos UK if you think about it, makes for a nice and crunchy contrast with Dischange's starkness. And when the two bands on a split complement each other well, which is the whole point of such a format, you know you've got a good one. It could be suggested that the band's great dynamics on this record be somehow linked with Doom's lack thereof at that time. As Stick explains in Armed with anger, by 1990 "it seemed we (Doom) had lost our direction, or directness anyway, so I wanted to re-achieve what I'd already had". Who said that the way of the D couldn't be therapeutical? Of course, Doom would become again a force to be reckoned with a new lineup (and Tom on vocals) from 1993 on, but I definitely hear a manic liberating element to EOW's early years. Although clearly Swedish hardcore-fueled, the vocals also have that delightfully excessive gruff crusty edge that characterized the late 80's UK scene of Extreme Noise Terror, Mortal Terror and Sore Throat. The band went on to record fine records of fast and direct Dis-inspired crusty hardcore, The waste and the greed Ep being a tighter and better-produced take on what was glimpsed on the split with Dischange, but never really found back the snotty vibe of these early recordings afterwards (this is not to say that I don't like Cathode ray coma or the split Deformed Conscience, but they were recorded with a different lineup and I don't approach them in the same way as I do early EOW's output).  

That must have been a cracking night out

This wonderful split Ep was released on Finn Records, a Swedish label - as the name doesn't suggest - that was active from 1989 to 1999 and put out brilliant Swedish hardcore records by the likes of Totalitär, Disfear or G-Anx. There was the label's distro list from November 1991 included with the split Ep which is bound to make you feel nostalgic if you were around at the time (I was not so it just makes me excited).  

The infamous Meanwhile reference



  1. labels on my copy are white with no text, probably second press?

  2. As much as I'm a Meanwhile nut, and as much as I feel Seeing Feeling Bleeding is devoid of energy, I'm really grateful to have these Dischange tracks. Thank goodness someone released the demos as well. As for EoW, just classic shit. Period. Nice write-up. -ZM

    1. Never enjoyed the Dischange Lp either. I only heard the demos recently and I was surprised however when I realized how good they sounded.

  3. I first encountered Dischange's Seeing Feeling Bleeding in the used CD section of the Wherehouse, circa 1999. (I suspect you didn't have the Wherehouse in your country, but for context, it was a music store chain that was like a smaller, crappier version of Tower Records). It was filed under Discharge. I had just gotten into Discharge not too long ago, and I remember being perplexed by this "Discharge" CD that I had never seen before. It took me a few seconds before I saw that the band was in fact called "Dischange." Having no concept of "d-beat" or Discharge worship at the time, I thought this was the most ridiculous thing I had ever seen, but somehow I knew I had to buy it anyway.

    I think I like Seeing Feeling Bleeding more than you do. It has some hits - "After-War Scars" and "Wictims of Madness" (second only to "Wictims of a Bombraid" as far as songs with that word in the title go) are songs that get stuck in my head on a fairly regular basis. I've also always appreciated how "Odd Dog End" goes right into "The End Is Here," in the same way that "A Hell On Earth" bleeds right into "Cries of Help" on HNSNSN (and I'm certain that was intentional given that both pairs of songs open the b-side of their respective LPs).

    I've never heard these Dischange recordings, so thanks!

    As for Excrement of War, I agree that this era of the band was superior to later line-ups. I have these songs tacked onto the end of the Cathode Ray Coma CD, and I've always thought they were the best part of that CD.

    1. Ha! That's a good anecdote! I first came across Dischange in an Active Minds interview in which the band - not so harshly - taunted the Swedes for taking the piss a little too much with the Discharge worship thing. I do remember being really confused when I bumped my first proper D-beat records. It was the Disfear Ep and the distro guy was really enthusiastic about it and was trying to sell it to me saying that it was "just like Discharge", which totally confused me since I didn't see the point of such mimicry at the time (but hey, I was young). So I didn't buy the Disfear record and instead bought some pretty average late 90's fastcore record. Definitely a wrong move in retrospect.

      The issue I have with the Dischange Lp doesn't really have to do with the songs themselves but with the lack of energy, especially compared to this Ep.

      And totally agreed on EOW. I do like all their materials but these early songs have a crust as fuck savage feel that they never really reproduced.

  4. Cheers from East Los Angeles. Thanks for the 320 uploads. I have had the 128s for far too long. EOW always killed me.

    I like the personal touch to your writing and it’s funny. BTW those temples in South East Asia are quite interesting.

    I was hesitant on the D-beat stuff myself until i heard Discard and I was in like sin. I never cared for Dischange, I always felt they tried too hard to BE Discharge, but hey I don’t know shit. I do know that the “Death From Above” ep made my world a better place.

    Disclose too noisy? There are days when I loop “Aspects of War” for hours. The things I see.

    “Bone Yard” sure has a lot of Discard and Anti-Cimex in it and that’s why this is legendary stuff. Stick is a bad mofo. “Crust as fuck savage feel” is apt.

    Great scans and the detailed info is appreciated. I’ll read the next installments during this vacation week. Thanks again.

    1. Thanks for the kind words man. I have never been crazy about Dischange either, although the demos are actually really good (precisely because they do not try as hard to be Discharge) and what they did under the Meanwhile moniker was definitely more solid.

      I believe in Disclose's greatness now but it was not the case 10/15 years, I have to confess ;)

      Cheers from Paris