Wednesday 22 May 2019

Records I Forgot I Owned (part 3): Blind Obedience "Submit to the yoke" Ep, 1998

This is a band I consistently keep forgetting about. Whenever I browse through my Ep's and see the record, I remember I already forgot about it in the past. I don't remember the actual band and music, not at all, I remember that it is not the first time I haven't remembered them. How odd, right? Even more so since, when I do play it, I realize it is a good record, unfairly unremembered, and I grumble self-righteously about the intrinsic injustice of the situation. And then I promptly forgot again. I often pride myself to have a pretty sharp memory of bands and records - as opposed to birthdays for instance - but Blind Obedience always escapes me. Go figure. So today's post will be a bit like a memorandum.

And it will probably a pretty short one since I do not know much about BO. I think I got the Ep in the early 2010's on ebay (yes you may sneer) for very cheap along with a couple of other obscure crust Ep's that nobody seemed even remotely interested in (I think Blowhard was in the lot as well). I suppose it was a distro getting rid of innocent 90's crust records which, of course, I just had to save from their impending doom, aka the dreaded 1$ bin where punk records go to die with as much dignity as they can muster. Going out of fashion is heart-breaking, really. But anyway, I had never heard of BO before and I cannot say they have become a hot topic of conversation since. What I can tell you is that they were from the quiet town of Vetlanda (that's halfway between Malmö and Stockholm according to google map) and that Submit to the Yoke, released in 1998 apparently, was their only vinyl appearance. From what I can gather, BO was formed by some ex-members of two other short-lived bands, Lopun Alku (like the Bastards' song) and Brusjävlers, that I have never listened to although they did a split tape together in 1996. The Ep was released on Hepatit D (D for Dis?), a label that was run by a member of Greenscab (assuming it rings a bell for you) and another bloke in the mid/late 90's. Hepatit D put out a couple of sweet records in its short run, notably a DS-13 split Ep, an Antabus Ep and of course the Puke 2xEp reissue. 

Despite this shortage of information, let me tell you that BO were absolutely furious. The cover is somewhat misleading actually. It looks a lot like someone decided to copy the Extinction of Mankind and Amebix fonts and frames and chose to exaggerate their slimy, hairy, ominous aspects but did not know where to stop so that it quickly escalated into a messy outcome. I mean, you have to focus to decipher some of the words, which is never a good thing in my book (though I do find unreadable band logos to be hilarious). It's like someone put the EOM logo in the fridge, forgot about it for two weeks and now it's gotten all mouldy and a bit ridiculous and unintentionally parodic. Unless it was the band's purpose to comment upon the irrelevant redundancy of crust aesthetics by emphasizing its most clichéd traits? Who knows? Regardless, such a cover indicates to the listener that it is a slab of old-school metal crust when it is really not (should it have been? You tell me. I was slightly disappointed upon the first listen).

BO were much faster and meaner, almost harsh at times. Of course, early Disrupt, Disfear, 3-Way Cum and State of Fear come to mind, especially when the band goes the pummeling dischargy beat and the typically groovy and catchy scando riffing, but on the whole the pace is faster and more akin to super fast and hard-hitting hardcore even grindcore bands like Filthy Christians. The excellent first song with its dirgeful introduction and the way it bursts into hardcore inferno reminds me of G-Anx and given the overall frantic pace, I suppose they were a major influence. I also cannot help hearing a black metal vibe, for the extremity and venomousness of the vocals, the sort of blast beats you find in metal and the moments when dark, almost demonic, epic riffs take over. Don't get me wrong, it is still very much in the gruff Swedish crustcore camp in terms of songwriting but there are songs when you distinctly a black metal touch and the cold and thin production probably enhances the feel (maybe not unlike Summon the Crows if you know what I mean). My favourite songs, "Bitter pills", "Blind obedience" and "Submit to the yoke" are pretty much all out cavemen crust anthems though. The lyrics are pretty direct, angry and political and "War is horrendous pt 100" questions the legitimacy of using the trope of war as merely another theme to sing about when actual fightings are so far away they are almost unreal (and I dig the Sore Throat reference obviously).

Submit to the Yoke is a lovely fast crust ripper and I am curious about what the members did after Blind Obedience. Surely, they must have done other bands, right? Please enlighten me.

That's just too much.

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Records I Forgot I Owned (part 2): Another Oppressive System / Human Waste split Ep, 2004

I have absolutely no recollection of getting this split Ep. None. I know for sure that I did not buy it at the time it came out so, I suppose, I must have found it for cheap on a distro table recently and, out of nostalgia and perhaps inebriation, decided to bring it home. And then, of course, the next morning, I completely forgot about my grand gesture and life went on. So I was pleasantly surprised to see it when I took a peak in the boxes of records during the move. 

Paradoxically, although I didn't even recall owning the thing, I know this particular record very well as we would play it very often at a mate's place when it came out in early 2004. Since he had bought it and since I used to spend a lot of time at his place, there was no need for me to buy it as well (that seemed reasonable as we all had little money for records at that time and a very limited access to the internet, so to share listening experiences was the sensible thing to do and we could always justify it with some kind of anarcho-collectivist theory). I would just bring some records along with me and we, with some other friends, would spend the afternoon listening to crust music and talk about our future band, discussing such crucially important matters as "should we include blast beats?", "are From Ashes Rise too melodic to be claimed as an actual influence?" or "do we all agree that there will be no soloing?". We were very serious and excited about it all and not jaded like everyone is or pretends to be these days. 

But anyway, in the early 00's, Profane Existence was an important political and artistic compass for me, and I was always on the lookout for new records and new issues of the magazine. It was at about that time that the magazine changed drastically, it got thicker and more professional-looking, with a glossy cover and a compilation cd included in it. I remember it got a lot of criticism because it was obviously more expensive (and there was, horror, a barcode!) and, to be fair, I do think the content was not as political and radical as it used to be, but then PE was also a collective and I suppose the magazine reflected the stances, ambitions and prospects of the people active at that time in it and well, people and contexts do move and change too and maybe the scene itself was not as political as it used to be. I didn't dislike the new version and enjoyed reading it enough although I did find it a little too polished (I much prefer the chaotic cut'n'paste look for punk zines) but then it was meant to be better distributed, more accessible and a proper magazine about DIY political punk, a rather ambitious goal that it sadly failed to achieve. Maybe it just didn't survive the new selfie punk generation and its expectations? Maybe it was already dated and not "edgy" enough? Maybe reading a punk magazine requires more efforts and support than playing a youtube video or liking a post (and the end of MRR as a printed medium may be seen in this light as well, though I have to say was never really an MRR reader)? Was it a generational change? Is it a global epistemological change due to the absolute prevalence of social media even when it pertains to underground and supposedly subversive punk music? I remember that only 10 years ago, questions and criticisms were still being raised about the need to use sites like myspace for punk bands and there were attempts to create autonomous alternatives to corporate social media platforms (and to be fair, there still are some). Now, you would just be shouting in the wind if you formulated similar reserves and over the past few years youtube, facebook or bandcamp have become taken for granted. We (I) just got lazy and complacent. But I should cut the whining and get to the actual crust.

As I said, in the early 00's, we paid a lot of attention to Profane Existence. I was looking closely at labels like Hardcore Holocaust, Crust War, Stonehenge Records, Putrid Filth Conspiracy or Plague Bearer (I had been appointed the official nerd in my group of friends so it was my duty to watch these things closely), but it was really PE that made the link between good music and anarcho politics for us (the ace-looking dove logo almost felt like a tribal sign). None of us had heard of either Another Oppressive System nor Human Waste before though but the Ep certainly looked very crusty (it has to be said that crust covers were very formulaic then) and the limited access to punk music made a lot of bands sound a lot more exciting and better than they actually were. So let's take another good listen to this split Ep.

First, I must admit that, if the moniker "Another Oppressive System" was almost certainly a loving reference to the great old OC peacepunk band "Another Destructive System", innocent me was completely unaware of it at the time and thought that AOS was a brilliantly original name for a band. They were from Connecticut and were active between 2000 and 2005, releasing two split Ep's, with World on Welfare and the great 3-Way Cum, and one full Ep before this one. Some members of AOS also played in crust acts like Dissystema and Diallo, who then morphed into The Total End (in 2004 I think), and I guess such names inevitably carry a whiff of nostalgia for some of us. Connecticut is renowned for having produced a number of hard-hitting savage crust bands throughout the years like Deformed Conscience, Dissension, React and State of Fear, the latter being definitely the most direct influence on AOS. They played heavy, fast, furious and political US-styled cavemen crustcore with three (yes, three!) vocalists in the great tradition of Disrupt and State of Fear. The vocals sound very harsh and angry, the drums are thundering, the riffs are quite obvious - in a "I <3 scandicrust" kinda way - but work well enough and the production, raw and punchy, is just as it should be for the genre and format (I don't think it would work on a full Lp for instance). If you fancy some heavy, gruff cavemen crust with dual male/female vocals then these three songs recorded in 2002 will delight you to no end. Sadly, this particular crust exercise slowly went out of fashion in the 00's and you could argue that, musically, even AOS were already closer to being a surviving trace of the 90's anarcho/crust sound rather than a sign of what was to come, namely the so-called stenchcore revival and the neocrust trend (though the dark and melodic ending to "Desperate cry for change" is not far off with its acoustic bit). Not many bands still play that old-school style of crustcore today and it might not be a wide-spread opinion, but I miss honest, direct bands like AOS that delivered the polyphonic harcore crust savagery with a good attitude and politics. AOS might not have produced a classic record - the following split Ep with Crossing Chaos, that I bought upon its release this time, was not as powerful - like Consume did for instance and I doubt many people still listen to them, but I'd rather listen to them than to the legions of ego-driven instagram bands passing for hardcore punk that seem to pullulate these days.

On the other side are Human Waste from Östersund, a Swedish crust punk band that existed from 1998 to 2006 and must have chosen their name from that great Skitsystem song. I think I knew HW before listening to this split as I must have bought their Ett 6 Pack Folköl Antipolis compilation cd on Hardcore Holocaust in 2003. Until now, I had never really thought about the band's insane productivity in the early 00's. Mind you, between 2001 and 2004, HW recorded 6 Ep's and 5 split Ep's! I suppose the fact that the singer Joakim was also a recording engineer must have helped the band and pushed them to record a lot, but that's still impressive. I suppose they are now remembered as being Joakim's first band as he later on played in countless bands like Dödsdömd, Uncle Charles, Ambulance, Electric Funeral, Desperat and of course the very good Paranoid without mentioning he founded the excellent and of course very prolific label D-Takt & Råpunk that specializes in releasing Swedish crust and hardcore. I hadn't played HW for some years before this post so let's check them out.

As remembered, they played fast and crusty Swedish hardcore with very distinctive screaming vocals that sound a little porcine. Like marmite, you will either love or hate them I suppose. As for me, I can handle them for the length of an Ep but not much longer to be honest. The three songs on the split with AOS were recorded in 2003 and have more variations and tempo changes than the band's earlier material that was very straight-forward in the songwriting (not that there is anything wrong with that of course) and also a little monotonous. On this one, you will find some dark melodic riffing, some heavy mid-paced moments that are not unlike Wolfbrigade or Acursed and on the whole I am reminded of Kontrovers' great first Lp, probably the best example of a successful blend between the traditional, fast and furious crusty Swedish hardcore and the more complex, more layered, more progressive dark hardcore sound of the 00's. Although they sound very much "of their time" (meaning too many "dark melodic neocrust" riffs), I enjoy these three songs enough and I like how, despite the epic crust turn, they still sound furious and urgent and not like some boring and overproduced post-hardcore band.

To be fair, at the time we often only played the AOS side (sometimes several times in a row because it was jus three songs) and I think I still would. This solid and humble split Ep may sound a little dated when compared to how punk sounds and is produced today but it is a relevant artifact of the early 00's scene. In terms of visuals, it is also a blast from the past since the cover was drawn by Marald, a Dutch artist with a graphic style close to American comic books that did a lot of covers in the 90's and 00's for US anarchocrust bands like Destroy!, State of Fear, After the Bombs or Scorned. At the time, I remember growing a bit bored of his covers since they often portrayed the very same things (skulls, skeletons, bodies, war and shit) but then I think it had more to do with what the bands wanted and not Marald. Oh well. I guess it almost looks vintage now since no one does this type of comic book crust aesthetics anymore. And he could really draw great zombies.  

Thursday 9 May 2019

Records I Forgot I Owned (part 1): Abuso Sonoro "Revolte Se" Ep, 1997

Blimey, it has been a while. Almost three months in fact since I last wrote for Terminal Sound Nuisance. I know, I know, how unprofessional of me. The break was not really intentional though and it certainly hurt to imagine the blog - my child substitute - having to survive in the ruthless world of the internet on its own, in the dark, lonely, screaming for my return. I did check up on it from time to time, to reassure it that daddy had not cheated with an indie-rock or a shoe gaze blog hosted on a more fashionable, edgier platform, but deep down I just knew that it was barely enough and that it would take some time before I could get back to my optimal shape again (the one with proper digital abs) and get TSN running as smoothly as it used to.

The thing was that I moved out from my château a few weeks ago and, as you can imagine, I had little time to rave about these cultural items that we cherish so much, even though they unavoidably tend to gather a lot of dust because we have so many of them and just cannot listen to them all. The logistics of carrying a record collection to a new place were nightmarish, a back-breaking toil that proved to be the source of much stress. On a lighter note, it was also a good opportunity to rediscover the collection (and realize how bloody massive and burdensome it had become) and think about my (our?) own materialism, about our relationship with these artifacts that take up so much of our time, money, attention and space. Sometimes it feels a little paradoxical to hoard so many records, many that I don't really listen to for time reasons, while being so critical of capitalistic overconsumption and overproduction at the same time, records that, for the most part, hold a message that condemns materialism. In fact, the more boxes you carry, the more you ponder about the meaninglessness of it all, and then you find yourself about to take a life-changing decision by selling it all off, giving it all away, freeing yourself from the chains of collecting punk records and maybe become interested in yoga or some shit. 

But no, of course not, and instead you inadvertently browse through the collection while unpacking and then you stumble upon some records you completely forgot you owned, and it gets a bit Proustian, they are not bad records, you just forgot you had them, they are not "classics" but they are pretty solid, and you know what, it would make a perfect topic for a Terminal Sound Nuisance series. Right? Right???

So basically, this new series will not revolve around a stylistic theme, around an era or an area. The only common point between the coming ten Ep's (yes, ten) will be that I forgot I had them in my collection but they are still pretty good and do not deserve to sink into the gaps of our collective and selective punk memory that's getting shorter by the day (to be honest, there were others that I had forgotten about but it was  quite justified... it was more a matter of "I am amazed I didn't get rid of that one, who am I going to give it to?"). You can see it as a tribute to the records that you yourself forgot you owned, to the bands you forgot you knew. 

Let's start alphabetically and, therefore, with Abuso Sonoro. Now, let's be clear, I didn't forget about Abuso Sonoro at all, they are a classic 90's band, I like them and I distinctly remembered owning the first two Ep's, 1994's Jogo Sujo and 1995's Prisões, the latter being my favourite, as well as a split Ep with Autoritär. However, I had no idea I also had Revolte Se, which was released in 1997 and was a collection of compilation tracks that the band had contributed in their early years. I suppose AS don't really need an introduction. They were around for about 15 years (they formed in 1993 and stopped playing in the late 00's), I guess they were one of the best Brazilian hardcore punk bands of the 90's, released some great records, recorded some of the most intense and furious political hardcore of their time, with that distinctly insane Sao Paulo hardcore aggression, and contributed to build bridges between hardcore scenes in South America and the rest of the world. AS, for me, represent everything that was good, honest and idealistic about the political 90's hardcore punk scene and, at a time when current bands work so hard on their self-image, on their sonic referentiality, on their look and on their fake nihilism (or on their toothless liberal politics inherited from the academia), it feels fresh to hear a band that just unleashes the fucking fury and hits you in the jaw with blasts of ruthless and direct heavy hardcore punk.   

I suppose this kind of bands are quite unfashionable now. They are not old enough to be "vintage" or "authentic" and not new enough to still be cool. Who cares. I do prefer the early period of AS, when they had that dirty crust punk edge injected into their triumphant and groovy Sao Paulo hardcore thrash sound, although, truth be told, the first thing I heard from them had a much cleaner sound (the 2002 split Ep with Autoritär on Yellow Dog). The playing might be sloppy here and there, but the energy is so pervasive and the anger so hard-hitting in these six songs that such trifles don't matter. The production is - obviously - quite raw (I love the dirty bass sound) but I would argue that its thick primitiveness serves the music's purpose even better. The vocals are gruff and direct, with some shouted screams as backing vocals, the Brazilian way, aka very fucking pissed. It sounds like a 90's crust punk version of the mid 80's thrash punk powerhouse that were Ratos de Porão, especially on Descanse em Paz, and Olho Seco. I suppose the Ep Já Basta!!! from 1997 was the band's best "raw crust thrash" material (but everything they did between 1994 and 1997 is ace) before they turned to a more modern and polished fast hardcore sound that, if it still sounded as furious and angry (maybe even more so), I do not like quite as much. It still got them an Lp on Six Weeks though.

Revolte Se!!! was released on a Minneapolis based label, Sin Fronteras Records, that, as well as supporting local bands (like Calloused and Misery), specialized in political hardcore punk from Latino America and it is no surprise to see some crucial bands of this era like Dios Hastio, Execradores or Sick Terror in its discography. As I mentioned, the six songs on the Ep originally appeared on various compilations - but they were part of the same recording session from January, 1996 - namely No Fate Vol. 2 on HG Fact; Não Somos Tão Violentos Quanto Temem Nem Tão Pacíficos Quanto Desejam Lp on Grito Records, Pas Fier d'Être Français - Not Proud To Be French Ep alongside Seein Red and Battle of Disarm; and the grind oriented Sem Estilos Para Definir o Nosso Odio Lp. The lyrics on the Ep are of a libertarian-revolutionary nature and the band included a text to explain their political stance and why they believed in the idea and praxis of revolt. It also referred to the Chiapas uprising that AS certainly supported (as the cover suggests) and, more generally, a lot of their lyrics dealt with the living conditions, political climates and liberation struggles in South America. Strong, contextualized subversive hardcore punk with an angry, but positive attitude. Shortly after the release of Revolte Se, AS would also include Elaine on vocals to give their fast hardcore sound an angrier edge and a more feminist approach.

A great band that epitomized what political 90's hardcore/thrash was all about that can delight fans of Hiatus, Los Crudos and RDP alike.