Friday, 27 September 2019

Sonatas in D Major (part 6): Disgust "Thrown Into Oblivion" cd, 1997

This entry might prove tricky to write since I am not much of a Disgust fan. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy Throw Into Oblivion tremendously, but as a band in the specific context of the 90's, I cannot say Disgust, as an entity, are particularly inspiring. I cannot really imagine a poignant, tear-inducing biopic about them for instance. For what such a record is worth, they were the first to be advertised an "all-star" d-beat band in History, demonstrating that, even regarding a subgenre as pure and noble as the holy D, one must remain quite vigilant. I am not saying that they sullied the respectable and legitimate practice of being Discharge by proxy, but their career did not exactly contribute to its good name. 

Disgust's origin story started well though. Dave Ellesmere - he who played the drums on a record you may have heard about called Why - was so disappointed with his former band's latest offering, Massacre Divine, "we were horrified at what they were doing" he said, his voice heavy with sorrow, and who could blame him,  it is a horrifying record indeed, that he decided to form a band that would sound like Discharge should still have been sounding like, namely like their '81/'82 era, "pretty much a strict template that you don't want to mess with". In order to turn these noble aspirations into reality, Dave picked up his favourite guitar and proceeded to recruit Steve Beatty, then owner of Plastic Head Distribution and formerly the drummer for anarchopunk band Stone the Crowz in the mid 80's, on vocals, Lee Barrett (who worked with Steve at Plastic Head) on the bass and Andy Baker (ex Varukers/Warwound/Sacrilege) on the drums. Unfortunately, this lineup lasted only a couple of rehearsals and promotional leaflets proclaiming with grandiloquence the second coming of Discharge in the guise of Disgust, had to be reprinted with a new lineup, Steve switching to drums because Andy left and Barney from Napalm Death (yes, I know) taking on the singer position. Because metal bands always have, by law, at least two guitar players, Gary Sumner, whom Dave knew from their glory days together in The Insane and Blitzkrieg, joined as well. With such a long "ex members" list, it is little wonder that Earache, smelling blood and cash, signed Disgust before they even played live. But then, Barney left and Disgust, without having set foot on a live stage, experienced yet another lineup change, with the arrival of England's prime gargling growler, Dean from Extreme Noise Terror, behind the microphone. It was this lineup that recorded the Brutality of War Lp in 1993 for Earache Records.

The high five of the apocalypse

Your assessment of early Disgust will totally depend on how bilious you are feeling today and on your level of cynicism. Of course, you could see the whole operation as a quick and easy way for a bunch of no longer relevant ex punks (is someone yelling "sellouts" at the back?) to make a comeback in the hardcore and extreme metal scenes. As far as I am concerned, Disgust's backstory sounds like the corny genesis of a heavy metal band made up of lads who used to play in bands that were kinda famous at some point (but to honest, a lot of hardcore supergroup have been promoting themselves exactly in this fashion for years in the DIY scene). You could also debate the idea that they were an actual band at all, since, being all spread out across the country, they pretty much wrote the songs on the day in the recording studio and, by their own admission, did not rehearse much, if at all, and did not get along well with each other so they cannot have done many gigs. Not really the Network of Friends mentality if you ask me. So even though Brutality of War was released the same year as Dischange's Seeing Feeling Bleeding, Disclose's Once the War Started and Disfear's A Brutal Sight of War, it can hardly be said that they were comparable works, since the aforementioned trio of Dis were just young hardcore bands that were part of the DIY punk fabric and not a so-called superband supported by a big metal label. So even though the output can and should be compared, the bands as entities and the contexts of production cannot. As for the intention behind the music, I am not in a position to pass judgements or attribute punk points (I ran out of them a while ago). I would hazard the opinion that Disgust's stance looked more opportunistic than Disclose's romanticism, although I have no doubt that the members of the band all dearly loved Discharge. In the end, a fitting description could be that Disgust was the perfect introduction to d-beat's stern extravaganza for your average metalhead.    

This said, and as peevish as my vision of the band can be, I have absolutely no doubt that the lads truthfully understood and related deeply to vintage Discharge. As Dave confessed, Disgust was meant to be a Discharge tribute band and on that level there is no denying the sheer raw power of Brutality of War. It is a great d-beat album, germane to the proper codes inherent to the genre and it basically hits all the right buttons. Apart from a couple of odd-sounding arrangements with the guitars (the one reserve I would formulate about the Lp is the slightly sloppy coordination between the guitars at times, which is surprising given the resumes of the people involved), Brutality of War does not fall in the usual traps one would be bound to associate with the idea of a d-beat album released on Earache in 1993. First, it is not an overproduced metal disaster, which would have been the biggest and most predictable mistake (one the band would eventually make). Of course, the production is clear and well-balanced, and objectively much cleaner than, say, on the Dischange Lp's, but it sounds like a punk record and not like an extreme metal one: raw, energetic and aggressive and it manages to reproduce Discharge's relentless brutality well enough. You can tell that the guys were really focused on dischargian mimesis and they completely deserve their inclusion in the "just like" category. I mean, even Dean does not overdo his proverbial growls and tries his best to melt in the collective D; which is how it should be done since, if anything, d-beat is a mystical sonic experience that, when well executed, transmits an uplifting feeling of harmony and of togetherness with the impending self-destruction of humankind, a bit like with psychedelic rock but with speed and cider instead of lsd. Brutality of War sounds and looks like a classic d-beat album and Disgust is a brilliant dis-name, these facts of life have to be dealt with as much dignity as we can muster.

Thrown Into Oblivion a live recording, first released on vinyl as an Ep in 1995 and on cd in 1997, both formats on the notorious Lost and Found Records from Germany. It was recorded during a Disgust's performance in Berlin at the Festivals of Hate tour that saw them share the stage with Cannibal Corpse, Samael and Morbid Angel, a lineup that shows how involved in and committed to the punk scene Disgust were as a band. In spite of an awkward moment when Dean invites, very loudly, the Cannibal Corpse bloke to grunt on stage during a song (I hold nothing against Cannibal Corpse but am completely indifferent to them), displaying once again that kind of corny metal festival mentality, Thrown Into Oblivion is, and it pains me a little to say that, a thunderous d-beat record. If Brutality of War felt a tad long and redundant in places (the Lp could have done without a few songs to be fair), Thrown Into Oblivion is a short sharp shock of Discharge-loving hardcore punk. The sound is bloody huge, and of course it would be, it is a metal festival, but the brutality of the set , made up of the best songs of the album, is awe-inspiring. That's what the end of the world should sound like. Eight songs of crushing "just like" d-beat that abides by the inexpugnable laws laid by the Stoke-on-Trent apostles who saved punk-rock in 1980. I guess it would not be erroneous to point out that Dean is a bit loud in the mix but his presence has never been subtle on stage so that was to be expected. The band is otherwise really tight, in spite of the scarcity of their rehearsals, and if you are looking for the sonic equivalent of being powerslammed by the Hulk wearing a studded jacket with Discharge painted on his back in order to make your friday livelier, you have just found the correct artifact.

All sizes for men, women and children,

The cd itself comes in a cardboard sleeve and sadly looks like a promotional giveaway rather than the best example of a live d-beat album recorded in the 90's, which Throw Into Oblivion objectively is. And I hate when ads for band merch find their way onto the insert. I have just bought the bloody cd already, let me breathe. Disgust would record the mediocre A World of No Beauty for Nuclear Blast (a metal label once again) in 1997, an album that chiefly made all the mistakes that Brutality of War wisely managed to circumvent. It is the perfect example of what a d-beat album should not sound like, so I guess you can thank the band for providing a counterexample: an overproduced, comlacent, uninspired metallic d-beat mess that is gruelling to listen to. As for 2002's The Horror of it all..., seldom has an album worn its title as aptly as this one. With only one original member from what was not really a proper band to begin with, this last Disgust album is to be avoided at all cost and I feel a bit sad for Crimes Against Humanity Records to have been entangled with what was essentially a crime against d-beat.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Sonatas in D Major (part 5): Deadlock "Fear will Continue" Ep, 1994

By 1994, the d-beat wave was reaching its apex. The Swedes must have looked unbeatable then, not only could they rely on their glorious past of 80's Discharge-loving hardcore, but they were also very heavily armed in the present with units like Disfear, Dischange, Dispense, Driller Killer, Diskonto, Uncurbed and Warcollapse (mind you, Wolfpack and Skitsystem were not even around yet), each of them standing for a particular aspect of the D in all its lustrous glory (the "just like" school, the scandicore revival one, the crusty one, the metallic one, the rocking one and so on, it was a bit like the Spice Girls but with discharge-y music). I am pretty sure you could have reached as many as fifty shades of D at that time and I guess we can still feel the aftermath of that wave of Discharge porn that swept through punk-rock's barren wastelands at the time. It amazes me how in such a short period of time, so many bands started to go for rather similar and circumscribed forms of hardcore punk music. But then, that's how trends work I suppose: they contaminate even the most innocent punks. Tales of creative, challenging individuals (usually into Rorschach or Refused) turning into Discharge freaks after being unscrupulously and malevolently subjected to repeated listens of A Brutal Sight of War and Seeing Feeling Bleeding were whispered around campfires in order to warn children about the dangers of the D, and, if some were clearly gross exaggerations (a man was once rumoured to have changed its name from Michael to Dismichael, a hoax that was revealed by the local town hall), it is undeniable that many a fair-haired Christian child was lost to the insane beats of "Decontrol" during the decade of the 1990's.

But I am not here to talk about Sweden today but about a Japanese d-beat band you may not have heard of called Deadlock. Deadlock is an eloquent name for a punk band, one that conveys an uncertainty about the future, a feeling of hopelessness, conjuring up images of oppression and doom. From an early Gdansk punk-rock band, to a Greek hip-hop crew, an Australian power-metal act or a melodic death-metal fiasco from Germany, there have been many bands in the course of history who thought that Deadlock was a top moniker that was bound to make them look both profound and sullen. I have no idea whether the Japanese Deadlock we are dealing with, who originated from Kimitsu in the Chiba prefecture (on the other side of the Tokyo Bay), aspired to a profound and sullen look but there is no denying that the name is fully appropriate to the essence of d-beat and its aesthetics with its Cold War undertones. Information about Deadlock is scarce indeed and I readily confess that the band was completely unknown to me until quite recently. Deadlock were pointed out to me by a friendly old-timer who not only experienced the 90's d-wave (with much joy I'm sure) but also played in a band named after a Discharge song, so the source was, without the shadow of a doubt, very reliable. As difficult as it is to stomach, I suppose that I was not that familiar with the DIY Records catalogue after all. In my defense, Deadlock's Fear will Continue looks unoriginal, its cover being a particularly grisly war picture with what appeared to be corpses of children burnt to a crisp, and the (over)use of the Discharge font with the band's name written vertically on the bottom left corner. It is so generic that it can almost be said to be exceptional in its derivativeness. But after all, Sonatas in D Major is about the d-beat genre so that derivativeness, intertextuality and overt referentiality are part and parcel of it. The only way to combine proper d-beat orthodoxy and creativity - or even, dare I say it, originality - lies in the acuteness in the choice of references. In other words, d-beat originality implies that the object and/or the extent of your worship is tastefully unusual or somehow unique. And in Deadlock's case, creativity can be located in their open, comprehensive, inspirational Disaster influence.

Recent years have seen the growth of a massive interest in Disaster. While they were originally a humble d-beat band from the North of England active in the early 90's, one that was strictly known by official d-beat maniacs and people who were actually there at the time, one that was sometimes mocked for their assertive unoriginality, they are now something of a cult band and considered as the ultimate "just like" d-beat band, which is a fair assessment of Disaster's prowess. As we have already
explored in The Chronicles of Dis, Disaster wore their desire to sound "just like Discharge" on their studded jacket and while their contemporary soulmates, like Hellkrusher or Excrement of War, used the Discharge influence to do something a bit different, Disaster aimed at sounding "just like" Why, a romantic, if redundant, quest that meaningfully echoes with our current obsession with the recreation of a glorified past and could explain the renewed interest in the band (that and La Vida es un Mus' reissue obviously). And in came Deadlock in 1994, three years after the release of War Cry, with the bonhomous objective to sound just like Disaster. This incredible, hardly conceivable endeavour meant that Deadlock were trying to sound just like Disaster who were themselves trying to sound just like Discharge. Does it mean that Deadlock sound just like Discharge? Not really. The band sounded like Disaster first and foremost so I suppose it may have been the idea of sounding "just like Discharge" that motivated Deadlock more than the actual fact of sounding "just like Discharge". This a major controversial issue in d-beat philosophy and one that has been biliously discussed on numerous occasions. I can assure you that words have been exchanged.

Fear will Continue is therefore an open tribute to Disaster and a testimony to the validity of the "just like" school of d-beat. The aggressive, distorted, hypnotic sound of the guitar is close, the songwriting has the same relentless simplicity (especially the riffs), the structures and arrangements (the pauses, the drum rolls, the solos, the singalong chorus...) are remarkably similar and the singer really tries his best to replicate the Disaster singer's mannerisms (in the flow, the prosody, the intonation, the unmelodiousness and even in the occasional bad timing) though it is impossible to sound as ferocious, but one can always try, that's the essence of d-beat. The Ep cannot be said to be a monster of heaviness (like Disfear for instance) but it has an anguished repetitiveness reinforced by the circularity of the riffs and the very rhythmic tuneless shouts of the singer. If you are into Disaster or British Discharge-loving hardcore, Deadlock's Fear will Continue will occasion much joy and euphoria for a couple of days. The Ep is very thorough in its Discharge-via-Disaster-love but can also prove to be easier to listen to for people who are not crazy about the genre since the vocals are not too rough or harsh (in case you're wondering about the record's social potential and standing) and the production is well balanced, it sounds aggressive and mean but does not bury you tersely under a wall of noise, rather its mostly medium-paced beat wears you down until you feel the unbearable sense of impending doom andreach a trance-like state. It is definitely my kind of D although the lyrics are prime examples of broken English poetry. When the Ep came out, the d-beat modus operandi had already set foot in Japan and the always prolific Disclose had several Ep's under their belt (they recorded Tragedy one month after Fear will Continue). Of course, Disclose now have a legendary status but at the time, it must have been rather fascinating to see two bands, both of whom were equally obsessed with Discharge and Discharge-referentiality, develop very differently in terms of sound and textures while still paying tribute to the same endless well of inspiration. Just imagine what a split between those two would have been. 

Fear will Continue was released on DIY Records (the label of Ryuji from Battle of Disarm) in 1994 and it was the label's fourth Ep (after the Disclose/Selfish split Ep and before the Meaningful Consolidation 2xEp). They would appear on another Ep for DIY Records the following year, this time as a split with Noise Reduction from Belgium, and on the mammoth 3xLp compilation Chaos of Destruction from 1997 compiled by Kawakami that also includes ace bands like Anti Authorize, LIFE, Reality Crisis and of course Disclose. I am clueless as to the musical activities of Deadlock's members after the demise of the band and will welcome relevant information on the subject.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Sonatas in D Major (part 4): Dispense "Nothing but the Truth" Ep, 1993

"When will it stop? When will it stop?" yells the irate punk as the chorus of the eponymous song "When will it stop" opening Dispense's Nothing but the Truth 1993 Ep. This ferocious-sounding bit is quite possibly the record's most remarkable moment and whenever a gentle soul reminds me of Dispense - which unsurprisingly does not happen very often to tell you the truth - I can hear with clarity the phrase "When ill it stop? When will it stop?", always repeated twice, just like in the song, resounding in my head. The doc tells me it is one of the many symptoms of a medical condition commonly found in persons who have been exposed to high levels of D for an extended period of time. It is a bit like being exposed to radioactivity, but with d-beat instead. It is by and large not lethal - only two casualties have ever been reported - but after effects can include irritability, antisocial behaviours, questionable clothing choices and an aggravated tendency to play a discharge-y beat with your fingers on any surface that is plane enough. So you can basically live a long, if unfulfilling, life with it. Long exposures to d-beat at a very young age have also been rumoured to prolong virginity but studies have been inconclusive so it remains mere surmise. Still, I am grateful I got into Crass before Discharge.

What I also really enjoy about that "When will it stop? When will it stop?" chorus is that you can read it retroactively. Of course, the song is about Discharge wars, brutal fictional conflicts where innocent men, women and children (in that order, always) scream in agony on the battlefields of the atrocities of waarrgh. Unfortunately they are not that fictional and war is, of course, still horrendous. When you were a 90's Dis-band, it was dictated by law that at least 50% of all your songs had to be about waarrgh. In the rare cases of non-compliance that have been documented, bands were immediately deprived of the Dis prefix and shamed in fanzines, usually with accusations of selling out (which was pretty much the worse possible insult to spit out at a punk band). Those were of course the good old days when bands still had some integrity to show for themselves... But that's not really the point, the reason why I find the chorus particularly congenial is that, beside the condemnation of armed conflicts that slaughter and maim, you could also read it a comment on the Dis phenomenon. Of course, Dispense did not mean it that way but I cannot help thinking about the different d-beat trends that have spouted since the early 90's and, in this light, the only reasonable, sound answer to "When will it stop? When will it stop?" (always twice) is "Well, it ain't gonna". Whether you are into Dis bands or not is completely beside the point: there will always be Discharge imitators on a scale that is growing more and more global. And, as it causes me to contemplate on the D, that's exactly why I find the chorus so stimulating. Tragically, this answer is also relevant when applied to wars which is much less amusing.

As for Dispense, they were from Nyköping, Sweden, and must have formed around 1991 since their first demo - which I have lamentably never heard - was recorded in May, 1992. As far as I understand, Dispense was the members' first band and you could say that their rather short-lived career was not unlike Disfear's. The two bands were from the same town, had their first Ep on the same local label (No Records), shared a Dis prefix and were progressively tending toward a more heightened likeness to Discharge (especially for Disfear). I cannot be sure, but I bet that the 1992 Dispense demo is closer to traditional 80's Swedish hardcore than to total Discharge worship. The fact that the lyrics were originally written in Swedish points in that direction and, like Disfear, the shift to the English language also signified more sonic closeness to Discharge and one could even advance that the prevalence of English in 90's Discharge-loving punk bands was not just a characteristic feature of the first d-beat wave but a central component in the birth of the genre (Spanish d-beat would actually challenge this linguistic hegemony to great success). 

Dispense are often considered as an average Swedish band, which is unfair but also makes sense since there were a lot of bands going for a similar style (d-beat, crust, scandicore) at the time in Sweden and I guess we are all inclined to remember the cream of the crop, the top shelf stuff (Disfear, Meanwhile or Warcollapse) and discard (pun) the rest as "run-of-the-mill" or "middle-of-the-road", which does sound harsh, but then you have to admit that, even in retrospect, it looks like a d-beat epidemic was sweeping across the country, overrun by punx in dire need to play Discharge riffs. What a cracking time it must have been. Seriously. I suppose that the name "Dispense" did not exactly help either. It is not terrible or even embarrassing, I mean, twenty years after the fact, you can still look your betrothed in the eye and confess that you used to play in band called "Dispense" without too much fuss, and you could even say that it is objectively a better name than Dischange or Disfear and certainly nowhere near as bad as Dissober or Disfornicate (just try to admit this one out to your betrothed). It still is a pretty pedestrian 90's Dis moniker but, truth be told, recent years have shown (as if proofs were needed of modern punk rock's deliquescing creativity) that you can far worse than that. No names will be given. 

Classic D-words

Despite the Dis, Dispense did not exactly play d-beat like their neighbours Disfear on Brutal Sight of War or Dischange/Meanwhile on any given day. On Nothing but the Truth, they can be described as a punishing and heavy Swedish hardcore band, with a strong Discharge influence, inherent in the genre anyway (it feels almost redundant to point it out), but one that is not completely behind the steering wheel. I am reminded of a more robust version of Asocial, No Security or even Totalitär (in the raspy vocals especially). Like many Swedish hardcore/crust bands at the time, Dispense were produced by a bloke who specialized in recording extreme metal band so that the outcome sounds relentlessly punishing (are the drums almost too loud?). I think the songs are catchy enough in their conception for the genre, the musicianship is there, the sound is excellent, the riffs effective, the solos tasteful and there is no denying the raw, brusque power of the Ep. It sounds of course quite predictable but the distinct 90's textures and the delightfully dischargesque "When will it stop" remains an absolute hit in my book with prime singalong galore one the chorus. Clearly not a bad record in spite of a rather gruesome cover typical of the fashion of the day. My version of the Ep was released on No Records in 1993 (it was to be the third and last production of the label) but it was cojointly reissued in 1998 by Rødel and Finn Records just like the first Disfear Ep. Following Nothing but the Truth, Dispense did a mini cd for Really Fast Records entitled In the Cold Night, another fine record that saw the band at its d-beat-est with a more pronounced Discharge love. Dispense also had two songs included on the Really Fast Vol. 8 compilation Lp from 1993 (same session as Nothing but the Truth with one of them also on the Ep) alongside Randy and Refused (for real) and they also contributed three songs to the legendary Distortion to Hell '94 cd compilation, released on Distortion Records, where they rubbed shoulders with delicate acts such as Warcollapse, Asocial, Sauna, The Perukers, Driller Killer, 3-Way Cum or Bombraid. Those last three songs were the last recordings of Dispense. 

Is it the end of the story? Not really. Both Dispense's bass and guitar player would go on to form Victims (the former on vocals and the latter on the six stringed instrument) while the drummer would join Skitsystem. Not bad, right?   

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Sonatas in D Major (part 3): Realities of War "S/t" Ep, 2013

It's monday morning and although I am not exactly straight and alert, I still have time on my hands before listening to Cock Sparrer on my way to work (because that's what real workers do, right?). I suppose normies would use that precious extra time to do some ironing and catch up on a tedious Netflix series so that they will have something to talk about with their colleagues and feel like their superficial critiques of mainstream American programs is actually akin to engaging in voicing a dissenting opinion. When you hear people claiming that they'd rather spend their night watching Netflix rather than go to a gig and support da scene, that's when you know there is something very wrong indeed with people and with the scene (let's be honest). Are Netflix and Instagram killing punk-rock? You've got four hours. As for me, I shall not be corrupted by this unrelenting propaganda machine and will rather spend my monday morning on something more intellectually rewarding and healthy, like write about an extraordinarily raw recoding of Japanese noizy d-beat from the early 90's. That will be my symbolic act of resistance to the kkkapitalist system and maybe I will also vacuum the flat if I'm done early.

Today's Sonatas in D Major will be Realities of War's self-titled Ep, first released in 2013 but actually recorded 21 years before that, in 1992. As the band bio, written by the guitar player tells us, RoW was never an actual band and this recording was only done for fun by two bored but devoted teenagers who had access to a studio at their school but did not really bother to share the result. I know it already sounds very much like the beginning of a punk fairytale but then when the guitarist adds, for the sake of realism, that "one day of 1992 after listening to DISASTER and SORE THROAT, we decided to go to the studio to try something like that", the story almost falls into unabated teary-eyed romanticism and the most idealistic among us are praying for this magic story to go on. In a perfect alternative world, some other punk (with DISCHARGE and DOOM patches!) that the drummer vaguely knew from his hometown would give the recording a listen, think it's amazing and offer to play the bass (because as you have guessed it, it was just a drum and guitar hardcore project). This three-piece would practice a lot and record a proper demo tape in 1993 and their revolutionary d-beat noize will make them noticed and they'll get to play at the infamous Final Noise Attack gigs in Osaka and share the stage with bands like Gloom and Crusade. At that time they will start to form a strong friendship with another Japanese band, from Kochi city, who was also trying to invent a distorted version of Discharge and further systematize a formula and an artistic view: Disclose. RoW and Disclose would often share the stage and this partnership would materialize through an incredible split Lp entitled Devastation Inferno recorded in 1994 and released on MCR, the distribution of which would make both bands known throughout the world and revered to this very day. That would have been the perfect version of the story. In reality, RoW never played outside of the studio and this project remained a one-off thing, stuck at the stage of the first practice forever. Sob sob.

Would we have heard of RoW if the guitar player in question was not Jacky from Framtid and Crust War? Probably not. After all, the recording was never released, not even as a demo, and therefore very few people would have even been aware of RoW at the time (especially since Jacky was also then involved in a real band, Asphyxia, whose demo would too be reissued in the 00's). Except that Jacky found the recording by chance years after that and sent it to Kawakami (from Disclose you dimwit) "just for fun". It made sense that he liked the recording, since after all it was made up of raw, distorted and primitive d-beat punk songs, not dissimilar to what Kawakami was trying to do exactly at the same time, great minds thinking alike and all that. Then the recording was sent to John from No Fucker, who thought of releasing it but eventually did not, and it finally saw the light of day on a proper Ep in 2013 thanks to Not Very Nice Records, a US label responsible for other noizy stuff from the likes of Chaos Destroy, Scum or Rotozaza. 

I will not beat around the bush: in order to appreciate this Ep, you already have to be really into raw d-beat. If a friend wants to get to know d-beat music better, asks you for help and you end up playing RoW, then you can be sure that he or she will never get into it. If that was your initial intention, well done mate, that person will probably never ask you for musical recommendations ever, but if you wanted to make a convert, then you are just a bad punk. Let's face it, this is a very rough recording, even if in a good way. Some badgers' arses are softer than that. But then, it was basically a recording of a first rehearsal done by two teenage punks, with no bass guitar, so all in all, the result is really not that bad. The sound quality aside, it is pretty fascinating to hear the obsession for Discharge and Discharge-loving hardcore that made the basis for RoW and in that light, they were right on time for the real start of the 90's d-beat explosion and their referring to Disaster as an influence is significant as it points to a second degree Discharge-loving influence and not just Discharge which means that they thrived for a "just like Discharge" sound while emulating prior talented copyists in the process, meaning that RoW was as much about the love for Dis(charge) than about Discharge in flesh and boooones (do you copy?). Because of obvious technical limitations, it is difficult to say if the rawness of the end product was intentional and how much would they have polished the sound if given the chance. Similarly, I wonder if the primitiveness of the songwriting and the directness of the riffs (for instance) were totally conditioned by the time limit or if they denoted a will to play stripped down, pure, quintessential Discharge music. I suppose the answer lies somewhere in the middle.  

I personally do not mind the raw rehearsal sound (after all I have raved about Gutrot and even Eat Shit on Terminal Sound Nuisance) and in addition to early Discharge and Disaster, I am reminded of genuinely raw early discharge-y bands like Subversion, Violent Uprising or even Diatribe, of demo era Doom instead of Sore Throat (the opening of "Doombastards" leaves little room for doubt), and of Disclose of course, especially in the vocal tone, but the similarity is unintentional, if not anachronistic. As I said, the guitar riffs are very simple, direct and aggressive and the d-beat is very pure and, dare I say it, innocent. I just love how the singer introduces the band at the start and then at the end says "Thank you, good night" as if it were a proper gig. It just sounds adorable especially when you put in perspective with the barrage of raw noise that just hit you. RoW sound almost refreshing for their genuine and youthful version of the raw and distorted d-beat, they sound like the lost paradise, essentially prelapsarian, unspoilt by the massive coming trend, symbolical of a time when the name "Realities of War" referred also to Discharge and not just to the whole d-beat phenomenon. It does sound a bit corny to our jaded ears nowadays but that's because we have become cynical bastards.

This is for the true lovers of the D. Seven songs, five of which are untitled. This noize kills posers and can therefore be used as a repellent.