Tuesday 5 May 2020

Distorted Hope and Cruster Rags: the Rise of Japanese Crust (1989/2019)

First, I wish to reassure my numerous faithful readers that their beloved leader and torchbearer of good taste in punk - if you need the vulgate I am referring to myself - is in rather good health and has been spared, so far, by that nasty virus roaming the streets and looking for an easy, and preferably weak prey to victimize, not unlike the "apolitical" skinheads of my youth who relished beating up teenagers who wore patches of Crass they deemed deeply offensive to their identity and anti-hippie religion. Those were the days. But anyway, I am sure that all my protégés will be relieved to know that not only do I stand uncontaminated but also that the Terminal Sound Nuisance staff has not been indulging in unproductive slothfulness in the past weeks. Indeed, their worrying natural tendency towards slacking, whenever it raised its ugly head, was harshly punished as I forced them to choose between listening to a 90's shoegaze mixtape or the whip (and they generally picked the latter as any sane person would). They were thus both incentivised and desensitised to work hard and provide their honourable sensei with the ground materials needed to complete his oeuvre, one that would, beyond dispute, replenish our mental energies and restore balance to the galaxy: three compilations of Japanese crust music covering thirty years of crasher madness, noiz addiction, apocalyptic stench and dove logos.  

Instead of engaging in pointlessly dull tasks like taking some fresh air or writing a lockdown diary showcasing the void at the centre of one's life, I decided to dive headfirst in the ruthless world of Japanese crust in order to extract its essence, its core, find meaningful ways to highlight it and create comprehensive but still palatable entries into the Japanese crust modes of expression. To be honest, it was no mean feat, and I am not just saying that to make myself look like an ideal of perseverance, it was a massive endeavour as I had to cut through hundreds of recordings spanning three decades to find songs that fitted my initial postulate. Since, of course, before I send the troops deep into Japanese crust territory, I had to think about what it was I was actually digging for. Doom-like cavemen crust? Epic Antisect-ish metallic crust? So-called Osaka-flavoured crasher crust? Or the specifically Japanese "crustifying" take on Swedish hardcore? Although an educated ear can always spot the Japanese crust bands, they nevertheless display a rather wide variety in terms of speed, mood and intent. What unite those bands, however different they might objectively sound, lie in the very articulate referentiality, the level of fervid intensity and the common hyperbolic tension that permeate the music. I have pondered about the identity and guises of Japanese crust in the past on several occasions for the blog, most notably in the series Japanese Crust vs the World and Noize Not Music is a Fine Art so I point you in these directions if you need more background information about and examples of Japanese crust's referentiality and thunderous vibe. 

Because crust has been a genre capable of maintaining a high level of popularity and quality in Japan to this day, a single compilation would have fallen short of illustrating the density of bands and the different evolutions that crust initiated in a country where punk, in all its manifestations, is and sounds very special. In the end, I settled for three compilations, one for each decade. I am aware that this is not without its shortcomings. Some bands have been going for more than a decade - indeed the immortal LIFE could have been included on any of the three volumes - while others basically sit between two decades. On the other hand, many of the bands appearing on the first compilation, about the 90's, can without a doubt be considered as characteristically "90's crust bands" while many of the more contemporary bands have that typical overdistorted sound that is rather common these days and will, I am sure, be known as a typical "2010's sound" in the future. So while it might not be ideal, I still feel this is the most relevant means of classification available to me. 

Another possible point of contention is, obviously, the selections themselves. As you can see, some bands that technically do not play crust music made the cut. In other terms, there are NON CRUST bands on CRUST compilations. Coming from someone who has always been despotically strict where crust boundaries were concerned, who never missed an opportunity to disparage mediocre crusty posers and who turned Terminal Sound Nuisance into the respectable establishment for elite level crust punx it is known for today, rather like a kosher tag but for the crust cult, the admission of non-crust music into a self-proclaimed crust compilation can be seen as somewhat problematic, disharmonious, if not blasphemous. But then, as cooler prevailing heads would offer, one also has to consider the aesthetics of the bands concerned. Although I am well aware that bands like Frigöra or Isterismo did not abide by the crust rules of music, they used a lot of crust references in their artworks or other paratextual elements so their presence does make sense in the broader context of such selections. Similarly, a band like Framtid never clamoured to play crust music as their obsession revolves mostly around the Swedish hardcore but their unabashed love for the raw mangel sound is precisely shared by many original crust groups so that in the end they are still in the vicinity and can therefore be invited to the party. The pure d-beat bands however were not included since the worshipping of Discharge belongs to a different, though related, genre.

I did my best to be exhaustive and relevant but unfortunately, and contrary to appearances and in spite of my resolve, I am not quite omniscient and I may have omitted some bands that I am either unaware of or deemed too far from the basis of reasoning I subjectively postulated. I wish I could have included cavemen crust acts like Indistinct Unrest, Crusthead Humanerror (yes, that is their name!) or A.K. but the songs were barely audible and unfit for human consumption, though if you focus long and hard, you can make out some tasteful grizzly shouts. Too bad. As for Condoom, I have sadly never got to listen to them but my heart, along with some obscure internet nerds, suggest that they too would have a rightful place in such compilations. What you do get in the end are three compilations that are about 70 or 80 minute long, with 102 bands, and as many songs, in total. As usual, my masterful compiling technique allowed me to equalize the songs like a boss for the most part and you will concur that listening to hours and hours of harsh distorted punk is not always the most pleasant of tasks, though it is clearly one worthy of the Crust Medal of Merit. 

Finally, I hope you enjoy the compilations. They were, as usual, made out of love, and you should enjoy, immoderately and irresponsibly, the pummeling walls of distorted aggression and apocalyptic despair that make up this vernacular crust genre. For a long time, I was rather suspicious of, if not a little antagonistic to, Japanese crust. Of course, as any self-respecting punk with unflinchingly good tastes, I loved the metallic variety of the Japanese wave and praised bands like SDS, Effigy or AGE, but found much of the Japanese crust bands too redundant and too prone to imitativeness. With time, I learnt to appreciate the peculiar art of emulation and referential aesthetics so characteristic of Japanese crust (being a massive sucker for Antisect, early Doom, Sore Throat and the Bristol noiz helped too) and I have grown to become a genuine lover of their local adaptation of this multifaceted genre that has tragically vanished in many places during the past decade but that punx keep alive and well over there. And this commanding loyalty is something I greatly admire. Up the crust.

Below are the tracklists. I am currently uploading the fuckers onto youtube but my computer is old so it takes forever.

  1. AGE “Exploding insanity”, Exploding Insanity mini Lp, 1999 (Niigata)
  2. LIFE “Eco system”, The World Lies Across Them Lp, 1999 (Tokyo)
  3. Truth of Arize “The day after”, S/t demo tape, 1998 (Kobe)
  4. Crocodileskink “Discrimination”, S/t split Ep with Força Macabra, 1997 (Tokyo)
  5. Victims of Greed “Mouth head”, No Hesitation to Resist compilation 10'', 1998 (Osaka)
  6. Warcry “Hope for a change”, Keep Drinking Attitude demo tape, 1993 (Osaka)
  7. Discord “Animal rights”, S/t demo tape, 1998 (?) (Tokyo)
  8. Ability “System”, S/t demo tape, 1998 (Mie)
  9. Socialcrime “Manzokusuruna”, Protest Noise Ep, 1998 (?) (Tokyo)
  10. Battle of Disarm “Human disaster”, 反戦-反動物実験 - Join no army, police and politician split Lp with Brainstorm, 1993 (Tokyo)
  11. Despair “The free world”, Final Noise Attack compilation Ep, 1994 (Osaka)
  12. Golem “Mid”, Sadness demo tape, 1999 (Tokyo)
  13. C.F.D.L. “Selfish shit”, Atrocity Exhibition 12'' Ep, 2002/1990 (Aichi)
  14. Mindsuck “Blind and dominion”, Natural Crust & Punk Force compilation Ep, 1996 (Nagoya)
  15. Lasting Noise Attack “Prejudice”, 3 Songs demo tape, 1998 (?)
  16. Crusade “Dishonest the world”, No Trust demo tape, 1992 (Osaka)
  17. Mental Disease “Red needles”, Get the Knowledge. Free your Mind Ep, 1996 (Kariya)
  18. Collapse Society “Practice?”, Tokyo Crusties Conp, compilation Ep, 1994 (Tokyo)
  19. Acid “Gray Earth”, Gray Earth Lp, 1991 (Tokyo)
  20. Frigöra “Religion”, S/t Ep, 1995 (Kawasaki)
  21. SDS “Riding on the ghorst at the midnight”, Pain in Suffering / Future Stay in the Darkness Fog split Lp with Misery, 1991 (Gifu)
  22. Unwise “Worth of existence”, Worth of Existence Lp, 1993 (Tokyo)
  23. Gloom “Scum”, Recomendation of Perdition 12'' Ep, 1997 (Osaka)
  24. Äpärät “Disposition”, Chaos of Destruction comilation 3x Lp, 1997 (Yokohama)
  25. Condemned “Disease germ in the present day”, To All Human Error demo tape, 1994 (?) (Osaka)
  26. Instinct “Ordered brains”, Massenslavement demo tape, 1997 (Nakama)
  27. Abraham Cross “Course for life”, Peace can't Combine 12'' Ep, 2002/1995 (Tokyo)
  28. Hakuchi “World in a mess”, Gods Disturb Ep, 1993 (Niigata)
  29. Macrofarge “In the world”, S/t split flexi Ep with Euthanasia, 1989 (Tokyo)
  30. Defiance “Deformed peace”, What is Crust? What is Melo-Core? Be Different Hardcore? compilation cd, 1998 (Osaka)
  31. Iconoclast “After the blood shed”, Who Does the Freedom and Equality Exist For? Ep, 1994 (Kanazawa)
  32. Reason Why “Contradiction”, Final Noise Attack compilation Ep, 1994 (Osaka)
  33. Reality Crisis “Chain & rule...united”, Deformed Society Ep, 1999 (Nagoya)
  34. Antiauthorize “System roots”, Our Wind... Ep, 1995 (Tokyo)
  35. Carnage “Change”, What is Crust? What is Melo-Core? Be Different Hardcore? compilation cd, 1998 (Mie)

  1. Contrast Attitude “Judgment of the cross”, Awave! / Now the World is from CHAOS to another more CHAOS... split Lp with Acrostix, 2004 (Mie)
  2. Effect “Fight for freedom”, Effective Disaster cd, 2005 (Tokyo)
  3. Voĉo Protesta “Scarred”, Slave to Convention – a Tribute to Doom compilation cd, 2007 (Tokyo)
  4. Revölt “Destiny of doom”, Crust Night 2002: the War Begins for Them!! compilation cd, 2002 (Kumagaya)
  5. Proof of Existence “What will happen tomorrow”, Scriptural Disaster Lp, 2003 (Yokohama)
  6. Calamity “Destroyed oppression”, Crust Night 2003-2004: Destroy Amm War Bastards and we Know it!!! compilation cd, 2004 (Tochigi)
  7. Agree To Differ “No justice in war”, System is Maintained by Us. If we suspect it, we can Unite to Break the fuckin' System!! split 2x Ep with Change, 2002 (Hiroshima)
  8. Sacrifice “Beite beatha bas”, Crust Nights 2005 compilation cd, 2005 (Sendai)
  9. Arize “Destroy!”, This is Arize World demo tape, 2003 (Gifu)
  10. Peaceful Collapse “麻痺”, Reality? demo cdr, 2003 (Sendai)
  11. Defector “Lunatic annihilation”, (パンクシステムデストロイ) Punk System
    Destroy Ep, 2003 (Osaka)
  12. Urban Head Raw “Throw it away”, End of Restraint compilation cd, 2003 (Kitakyushu)
  13. Unkind “(F)”, Crustie Not Hippies Ep, 2004 (Kanagawa)
  14. Kriegshög “Extinction”, S/t split Ep with Deathtribe, 2008 (Tokyo)
  15. Border Line “Lost in maze”, S/t demo cdr, 2004 (?) (Fukushima)
  16. Equality “Revenge is peace?”, Our Lips Say Freedom demo tape, 2002 (Aichi)
  17. Affect “Darkness silence”, Darkness Silence demo cdr, 2004 (?)
  18. Argue Damnation “Manifesto”, Direct Action Now Lp, 2000 (Kobe / Osaka)
  19. Screen Out “Innosent victims”, Despair of Ignorant Ep, 2000 (Ibaraki)
  20. Minds Continue “No more army”, S/t Ep, 2007 (Tokyo)
  21. Devastated Goes “Masscommunikill”, Devastation demo cdr, 2007 (Osaka)
  22. Alive “Mind”, Mie City Hardcore 2 – Howlling Noise Crusties from Gates of Hell compilation Ep, 2002 (Mie)
  23. Chaos Engine “陰核”, Chaos Reigns, a “Ray” of Hope Remains Ep, 2007 (Yokohama)
  24. Effigy “Mortal war”, We Knows Our Guilty / Lama on Loppumassa split Ep, 2001 (Takamatsu)
  25. Disdomestic Violence “Mad economists”, S/t Ep, 2006 (Saitama)
  26. Tohchika “Noise room”, Crust Night 2003-2004: Destroy All War Bastards and we Know it!!! compilation cd, 2004 (?)
  27. Death Dust Extractor “Slave system”, Slay Your Masters or Slave in Chains Ep, 2008 (Tsuyama)
  28. Hermit Prose “Spiral of the Earth”, Down Beats Sect Ep, 2006 (Suita)
  29. Reduction “Nature screams”, Social Disorder Ep, 2002 (Osaka)
  30. Zoe “Slaughter”, The Last Axe Beat Lp, 2004 (Osaka)
  31. Nationstate “Japanese title”, S/t demo tape, 2005 (Osaka)
  32. Answer Crying “Punk rock sucks”, Under the Authority – Endulance and Lie are your Reality? Cd, 2004 (Aichi?)
  33. Deceiving Society “Nonsense battle”, Detonation Cruster 12'' Ep, 2001 (Mie)
  34. Acrostix “Eternal winter”, Awave! / Now the World is from CHAOS to another more CHAOS... split Lp with Contrast Attitude, 2004 (Mie) 

  1. Avvikelsse “Relief”, S/t Ep, 2016 (Osaka)
  2. Sow Threat “Filthy chain”, S/t Ep, 2014 (Okinawa)
  3. Ferocious X “Värld av skit”, Värld av Skit split Ep with Sistema En Decadencia, 2019 (Osaka)
  4. Ulcer “Remains”, Vandalism Lp, 2017 (Kagawa)
  5. Akka “Inverse proportion”, 5 Songs Ep, 2012 (Shikoku Island)
  6. Subliminal Darkness “Personal greed”, 4 Tracks demo tape, 2012 (Gifu)
  7. Lastsentence “Strange fruits”, S/t demo tape, 2011 (Osaka)
  8. Attack SS “Nuclear time bomb”, No Nukes Ep, 2012 (Okazaki)
  9. Strange Factory “In slat”, Fukushima Nightmare Ep, 2012 (Fukushima)
  10. Framtid “Nuclear power genocide”, Defeat of Civilization Lp, 2013 (Osaka)
  11. Disturd “Collapse”, Dark cd, 2015 (Kobe)
  12. Massgrave “Yin and yang”, You are Freaks Too... tape, 2010 (Tsuyama)
  13. Isterismo “Mentire”, Hardcore Inferno compilation Lp, 2010 (Tokyo)
  14. Deformation Quadric “A.B.E. Weapon”, Anger at the Social System cd, 2017 (Osaka)
  15. Zyanose “Condemn racist”, Permanent Damage split Ep with Enzyme, 2019 (Osaka)
  16. Absurd Society “Refusal of the change”, Absurd-Society =不条理な社会 Ep, 2013 (Sapporo)
  17. Disgust “Natural born enemies”, Power Corrupts split cd with Extinction of Mankind, 2010 (Nagoya)
  18. Lastly “A look at the now”, Crazy Fucked Up Deadly Local Ep, 2014 (Hida-Takayama)
  19. Unarm “核心を問う", Myth and Reality 311 Lp, 2013 (Tokyo)
  20. Asmodeus “闇", Life? Demo cdr, 2010 (Tokyo)
  21. Scene Death Terror “?”, live in Osaka, 2016 (Osaka)
  22. False Insight “Masquerade”, S/t split Ep with Asocial Terror Fabrication, 2015 (Shizuoka)
  23. Unconscious Nondiscrimination “?”, live at Huck Finn, 2019 (Gifu)
  24. D-Clone “Where is it”, Creation and Destroy Lp, 2012 (Nagoya)
  25. Radioactive “War must disarm 2017”, 8 Track demo cdr, 2017 (Tokyo)
  1. Kaltbruching Acideath “Customary slaves”, S/t split Lp with Zygome, 2019 (Tokyo)
  2. Defuse “Cry of roar”, Cry of Roar Ep, 2017 (Osaka)
  3. Dropend “Narcissist paranoia”, Distortion Hell Ep, 2013 (Tokyo)
  4. Asocial Terror Fabrication “Soak into the soil”, S/t split Lp with Instinct of Survival, 2018 (Tokyo)
  5. Zikade “Extinct conductor”, S/t split Ep with Braincëll, 2019 (Ashikaga)
  6. Deformed Existence “Elitists (who spikes and vivid)”, Hate With Patriotism demo tape, 2019 (Tokyo / Niigata)
  7. Zay “The question of silence”, Silence and Clamor demo cdr, 2015 (Mie)
  8. Axewield “Ominous dream”, War Machine cd Ep, 2010 (Takamatsu)