Monday 20 November 2017

Kids of the 90's (part 7): Proyecto Terror / Denak "Hagamos del punk una amenaza / Estado de bienestar" split Ep, 1996

Grindcore. Without a shadow of a doubt the punk subgenre my neighbours like the least (judging from their hopeless moaning whenever I play some at home). And fair enough, after all it did take me a few years to get into it and even so I have always very picky about my grindcore. Ironically enough, a lot of the earliest punk gigs I went to were of the grindcore variety and I learnt about the very existence of the genre on the spot. Needless to say that 17 year old me was completely unprepared to be exposed to cavemen growls and blasting hardcore. At that time I was much more interested in spiky punk-rock and I just did not understand the connection between the two although I was told that grindcore was also "punk-rock", a statement that deeply confused me at the time. But the thing was that, if you were a Paris punk kid between 1999 and 2002, you would obviously go to the Squat du 13, a brilliant venue with brilliant people that hosted an insane amount of punk gigs of all kinds, but especially grindcore bands. In fact, you could argue that this squat was perhaps the best grindcore place at that time, anywhere. 

As for me, even if I did go to the gigs, I did not always actually watch them. In fact, I would often hang out in the yard drinking beers with my punker-than-punk mates, all wishing there was at least one streetpunk band on the bill in lieu of all these bizarrely-named "hardcore-grind-crust-whatever" bands like Cripple Bastards, From Ashes Rise or Denak indeed. We were young fools and I try not to think about all the great bands that were playing a few meters away from us and that I could have seen if I had made the effort to open my mind instead of being a juvenile wanker with a crush on mediocre oi-punk. Oh well, you grow and you learn. 

I realize we haven't been to Spain very often on Terminal Sound Nuisance and the reason is pretty plain. I certainly enjoy some Spanish bands but I suppose I am just not well versed enough to be able to write relevantly about it. But then, there is Proyecto Terror and I absolutely love this band as they sound exactly (and I mean EXACTLY) how I want my grinding crust to sound: simple, raw, direct, aggressive, obnoxious and punky. No technical bollocks, no cheesy metal moments, no constipated grunts and no falsely provocative "fun" lyrics about penises and excrements. 

PT were from Zaragoza and they were active between 1992 and 1997 which locates them at the historical heart of the eurocrust wave. Apparently, the band originally started as a side-project that was formed because Psychotic Noise were playing in Zaragoza and some kind of grindy, noisy band was needed to support them and the boys seized the opportunity (the first bass player Kike and singer Avellano were already in Bastardos del Metal together at that time). Now, that's what I called a proper DIY spirit. I am not sure which of the split with Denak or the one with Violent Headache was released first (the former was recorded in April, 1996 but I have no date for the latter) but both saw the light of day during the same year, in 1996. PT did not have a demo from what I can gather although there is a pretty rough cavemen grindcore rehearsal recording from 1993 included on their Shitcography cd with deliciously gruff covers of Doom, Disrupt, Extreme Noise Terror and Napalm Death (just in case you still hadn't figured out how this band with "Terror" in their name sounded like). 

The six PT songs on this self-released split were actually part of a longer recording session (eight more songs from the session can be found on the aforementioned cd) and are my favourite from them. I suppose you could claim that PT was pretty much the crustiest band in Spain in the mid-90's, although they definitely had a strong grindcore edge too (possibly because there were quite a few excellent grind acts at that time over there). Blend the early days of Disrupt and ENT, without forgetting to add a spoonful of Extreme Noise Error for some crusty sloppiness, and then soak it in a raw grindcore marinade made out of early Napalm Death, Rot, Agathocles, Violent Headache and Terrorizer. The music is highly dynamic, fast, aggressive with two growling singers who sound so over-the-top (and enjoying it) that it is just perfect. The "production" is as it should be for the eurocrust genre, crunchy, raw and energy-oriented. 

The split with the mighty Violent Headache on Mala Raza also comes recommended (with both bands covering each other) but I prefer the thick sound of the collaboration with Denak. PT's lyrics were of a political nature ("Machicidio" is about sexism, "USA" about imperialism) but they also had a tongue-in-cheek side with pisstakes about Kurt Cobain and punk fashions. Sounds good to me. Following the split of the band, and among other things, Avellano kept singing in the thoroughly enjoyable Mobcharge, Konguito played in Fuerza Para Vivir, Kike in KBKS,  Dani in Criatura and Raul in Manolo Kabezabolo y Los ke se Van del Bolo (quite an albatross of a name).  

On the other side are Denak, a grindcore band from Madrid that is actually well-respected in "da scene". Denak is a perfect example of a top band I could have seen in 2001 (when they played with Cripple Bastards at the Squat du 13 in Paris) but probably did not because I was busy boozing before the venue, probably discussing the merits of Oxymoron's first album... I have no precise recollection of most of the gigs I went to at that time (unless there was actually a band I wanted to see, which also happened fortunately) but I do remember distinctly a slightly older, and thus infinitely wiser, punk - who happened to be a grindcore convert - telling me that Denak were, to him, currently, the best grind band in the world. That was quite a statement and although I still did not bother checking them out before a long time, credulous me remembered his words, so much so that, to this day, Denak will always be a band that holds an aura of awe for me. 

I am not a Denak (or grindcore) expert but I understand the members were heavily involved in the DIY punk scene and its grindcore subdivision in the 90's. Iñaki and Gerardo also ran Upground records, a grind label that put out materials from Rot, Cripple Bastards as well as a tape compilation in 1995 entitled Reality Shows that included Violent Headache, Carcass Grinder, Patareni and... Proyecto Terror. Denak formed in 1994 but the split with PT corresponded, I think, to their first proper recording session from May, 1996 (their songs on the split with the delicately-named Excreted Alive were from the same session) although they appeared on compilations in 1995 so I guess there must have been some kind of demos or rehearsal recordings prior to '96 too. But this is early Denak we're dealing with here. 

If Proyecto Terror epitomized what I mean with grinding crust, Denak exemplified crusty grindcore (you may scoff all you like, there is a distinction, in my head at least, it is a matter of intentionality, shape and balance). The five Denak songs on the split are beefy, heavy, raw and, most of all, very punky. The songwriting is direct and clearly old-school oriented, which is fairly logical considering the timeframe. This is my type of grindcore: primitive, effective and groovy. They also rely on dual vocal orthodoxy but with tones and flows that are different to PT's and meaningfully illustrate the stylistic divergence between crust and grind. I am reminded of Terrorizer, Rot, Disassociate, Agathocles, Warsore and Violent Headache and that is no bad thing. Grindcore glory in all its tasteful simplicity. Denak were a pretty serious band as well with lyrics about the daily grind, alienation and keeping it angry. 


1 comment:

  1. Denak played 4 times in squat 13 in 2001...Best moments ever, not just like a band...