Wednesday 26 August 2020

Ten Steps to Make Your Life CRUSTIER Starting Today (step 9): Extinction of Mankind / Warcollapse "Extinction of Mankind / Massgenocide" split Ep, 1994

As time passes and as the global ecological apocalypse looms ever closer, it seems that, not unlike most of the world's wild species, the average lifespan of punk bands has also grown shorter. According to the last estimate of the World Health Organization, a punk band formed in 2020 is now expected to live a total of 800 days, whereas a band playing a similar style in 1992 could live at least 2000 days. Of course, some factors external to the punk scene like global living conditions, economic hardships, dictatorial regimes or postpunk's growing instagrammability have to be taken into consideration when one tries to analyse the transience of modern hardcore bands. Still, the fact remains that many bands split up after just two years of existence (often involving one 20 minute long album, one Ep, one European tour and about ten different shirt designs), before members disperse in order to start new band with a slightly different approach, thus launching a new punk life cycle. The intrinsic shortness of hardcore punk bands' lives is a subject that has been on my mind for a while now and, in spite of my infinite wisdom and invaluable experience, I don't have much to offer to enlighten this process other than the global acceleration and increase of our consumption of cultural goods and the decrease of our attention span, both as audience and musicians. If internet has affected the way we listen and relate to music, it must have changed how we write and play music and form bands. In any case, it is always heart-warming to see bands formed in the early 90's that are still active, still hold the same values and still deliver the same sonic assault, thus showing that crust music can be a potent - without mentioning largely organic - preservative indeed.                 

Today, Terminal Sound Nuisance will be hosting two familiar ugly faces, gathered on the same split record, an Ep released in 1994: Manchester's Extinction of Mankind and Sweden's Warcollapse, the latter being the only non-British band of this crust lifestyle series. The inclusion of this split Ep made sense on several levels. First, it is a way to connect the past - in this case the early 90's, a crucial time in crust development - to the present, since both bands are still playing in 2020 and although WC have not been anywhere near as active and prolific as EOM in the past decade, the latest Desert of Ash 12'' was released in 2019 and is worthy of your attention. Second, in the timeframe that interests us, from the late 80's to the early 90's, the split Ep format grew to become a proper DIY punk staple. The format was emblematic of the period itself as it symbolised the idea of cooperation and was also a lesser financial risk with the involvement of two bands. Just consider the number of split Ep's released in the 90's and 00's that unquestionably belong in the upper level of the crust punk canon and it is utterly clear that, not only did the Ten Steps series dearly needed such a format as a matter of diachronic relevance, but that you should also have a list of your ten favourite crust split Ep's ready in case you are being challenged to a crust joust by your arch nemesis one day (lets get real, it's bound to happen). And finally, you did not get much crustier than EOM and WC in 1993 when they recorded their respective side of the split. 

I have already written about EOM's Scars of Mankind Ep (here) and WC's Crap, Scrap and Unforgivable Slaughter Ep (here), so that I do not really need to tell you about their origins again and the fascinating stories about how and when I got to know them probably don't deserve another round. I often feel as if I am droning on about the same old bands and sanity, or something approaching, dictates that I should avoid literally repeating myself too often. The day I accidentally review a record I forgot I already dealt with will be the last day of the blog and the first of a gofundme page for my retirement party (possibly a massive Discharge karaoke night). But we're not quite there yet and we have a lovely split Ep to rave about so let's get to it. There are several connections between EOM and WC, the split Ep being only the most obvious, and many parallels can be drawn between both bands. As punk bands do, they toured together in Sweden in late 1994 (Counterblast were also invited) and in central Europe again in September, 1995, but far more strikingly, both bands each recorded a tribute Ep to UK punk bands - Ale to England and the aforementioned Crap, Scrap and Unforgivable Slaughter - that included the exact same three bands (Antisect, Discharge and Amebix). If the similar choice of classic bands undeniably reflected major influences, there remains an impression of crust bromance that I find particularly endearing and relatable since, as any faithful believer of crust knows, Antisect, Discharge and Amebix is the official trinity of our cult. The Extinction of Mankind / Massgenocide split Ep was the first proper record for both bands (although EOM had one song off their Without Remorse demo on Loony Tunes' compilation Lp A Scream From the Silence Volume 2) and it proves to be an apt representation of the bands' rawer past selves. 

Recorded in October, 1993, in Middlesborough, the EOM side is made up of three songs, admittedly thinly produced and rather direct in their approach, that nevertheless pack up a right punch. Although beers and fags have affected Ste's voice during his almost three decades behind the mike in EOM, you can still instantly recognise his vocal style and unmistakable flow, tone and intonations, shouted with a lot of power but never yelled or growled, and always very much understandable (if you are fluent in the language spoken "Up North"). You can hear that the band was still young and not totally comfortable and had not really found its own beat yet. The sonic ingredients that defined the early years of EOM are already present however and the Antisect influence is prevalent indeed as the band tries to offer a blend of In Darkness There is no Choice's relentless power and Out From the Void's rocking darkness, an ambitious initiative that EOM probably did not have the ability to realise at that point in time but that Scars of Mankind remarkably did eventually. There are also elements of Anti-System and Icons of Filth in those early EOM tracks, especially on the faster "Overruled" or on the groovy mid-paced moment of "Extinction of mankind", while "Suffer in silence", arguably the best song, reminds me of a cross between early Axegrinder and Hellkrusher. Lyrically, we are on standard grounds with "Overruled" (about systemic control) and "Extinction of mankind" (about humankind's fair treatment of nature, of course) while "Suffer in silence" is a visceral number about domestic violence. Although EOM would significantly improve throughout the 90's, the key elements and the referential nods, that they would build on, polish and grow to be famous for, already informed their early sound. One may also note that they were one of the few 90's UK bands to worship so openly at the altar of Antisect and Amebix and pay such a powerful tribute to the mid/late 80's both in terms of songwriting and visuals (the artworks have always been brilliantly macabre and the band's logo is the equivalent of a Crust 101 art class), and on that level it is relevant to see EOM as an attempt to continue and preserve the whole Antisect approach to punk and a love declaration to the crust greats. In the end, a rather romantic endeavour.   

There are two songs on WC's side, "Massgenocide" and "Scorned by bombfighters", recorded in February, 1993. These two tracks were part of a larger session as two other songs were also recorded on that occasion, "Misery and despair" (which would end up on Tribal War's compilation War Compilation) and "Warcollapse" (included, along with "Misery and despair", on Distortion Records' Distortion to Hell classic compilation of Swedish crusty hardcore). I think it was the first session under the WC name but the band's website infers that a demo entitled Misery and Despair was recorded when they were still grinding under the Earcollapse moniker (a cracking name indeed). Being a massive WC fan myself, I cannot recommend the band's early era enough as it gloriously epitomised the 90's cavemen crust sound, albeit with a distinct Swedish hardcore vibe, and for all their rawness, the early Ep's did not fail to deliver and let it be clear that the Crust as Fuck Existence minialbum from 1995 is a masterpiece of mid-paced metallic old-school crust. The two WC songs on the split are typical of what would become the band's style. The heavy, slow, stripped-down dark crust number, "Massgenocide", points to Doom's slower moments, Döm Dar or even Saw Throat with super gruff and hostile vocals and such slow-paced epic metal-crust numbers would become a WC trademark. The other song, "Scorned by bombfighters", sees WC unleash a fast and pummeling scandicrust tornado upon the listener, somewhere between Doom, early Sauna, Anti-Cimex and Bombanfall, with the deceptively soft introduction cleverly linking it to the previous number and a spoken words moment nodding to anarcho hardcore punk. A clearly fantastic debut from the masters of Swedish crustcore and a fascinating instance of how influences circulate inside the punk scene with a Swedish band influenced by Birmingham's Doom, who were themselves inspired by Discard and 80's käng, who could not have existed without Discharge's fury. Not that many Swedish bands displayed a strong crust vibe in the 90's - be it of the stenchcore or of the cavecore variety - and many (and there were tons of bands) aimed for a harder version of the Swedish hardcore classics. WC, on the other hand, offered a punishingly convincing cocktail of old-school UK crust and vintage scandicore, and their sound, to me, defines what the term "Swedish crust" really entails.   

Both EOM and WC would go on to become genuine references in the world of crust throughout the 90's and 00's. In spite of important lineup changes (the departure of Mass and the arrival of Scoot on the guitar must have been a massive sonic shift), EOM have progressively become that rather unique and distinctive UK crust band with a sound that is both identifiably linked to the old-school crust wave and yet totally their own and there is something that I find inherently respectable, if not heroic and quixotic, in keeping a band alive throughout all these years, especially when they play such an underground peculiar genre as crust punk, surviving all the shallow trends and the endless punk drama in the process. As for WC just play Desert of Ash if you need to be persuaded that they are still up for it and may the crusties of the world hold hands and pray together that it signifies the rebirth of the mighty WC. 

Released on the Swedish label ElderBerry Records (responsible for records by the likes of G-Anx, Tolshock or 3-Way Cum), this is retrospectively a classic split Ep in the sense that, to some extent, it prefigures the greater things that are to come for both bands, although taken on its own as a rather typical early/mid 90's record, it would be far-fetched to call it a crust masterpiece but reasonable to describe it as a solid and promising raw crust work. It is therefore in the light of future events and of the bands' parallel progression that the EOM/WC split Ep makes the most sense.

To be enjoyed with some ale.    

Thursday 20 August 2020

Ten Steps to Make Your Life CRUSTIER Starting Today (step 8): Coitus "Darkness on Streets..." Ep, 1994

Although not as uncomfortable to wear as that Genital Deformities one, my Coitus shirt remains one of those punk garments that I avoid to sport during family reunions, at work or on Valentine's Day. Nothing wrong with the design itself (I mean, who doesn't crave for gasmask-wearing skulls?), but having "Coitus" and "Fucked in to oblivion" written on a shirt might somehow send the wrong message socially as heads are bound to be shaken in disbelief whilst eyebrows rise judgmentally and loud sighs of disapproval are openly breathed out. However, when one consider that the first incarnation of Coitus, in 1989, was called Eternal Diarrhoea (and apparently had Lippy from Antisect on the bass, the choice of instrument being almost as surprising as the band's moniker), one can be thankful indeed for the terminological change to Coitus as an Eternal Diarrhoea shirt could only have been worn safely at all-male events like goregrind gigs, which is pretty narrow. But let's skip the fashion talk already and switch to the band Coitus, a powerful raw hardcore unit that any self-respecting crusty punk should be, at the very least, familiar with.   

Battered copy because of too many moves (additional punk point)

As foreplays to Coitus, drummer Alien and guitar player Martin had played in the legendary Sons of Bad Breath in the mid-80's, a cult band made up of members of the so-called Hackney Hell Crew, basically a bunch of drunken punk squatters looking like Mad Max rejects making a bloody noizy racket that made Chaotic Dischord sound tame and bourgeois. This tight connection to the punk squatters' scene, especially in London but also abroad, was part and parcel of the identity of Coitus and, as their chapter in Ian Glasper's Armed With Anger can attest, they have unsurprisingly more than a few crazy squat-related stories to tell, in particular when it comes to the brutal tactics used by the police against squatters. at the time. The third member of the early Coitus was Skinny on the bass, an Irish punk who had previously served in Paranoid Visions which accounted for the band's frequent trips to Dublin to record and tour. Martin was quickly replaced with Pato in 1991 for the band's first tape, In Two Minutes You'll Be Smokin' in Hell, that comprised two recording sessions, the first one done in March, 1991, in North London, the second in May, 1991, in Dublin. Pato then left the band and Mik was recruited on the guitar and the classic Coitus lineup was in place.  

If Coitus can arguably be considered as one of the most striking UK punk bands of the 90's and certainly as one of the very best and unique in their field, like too many bands of that decade, they sadly do not really enjoy the cult status they deserve. While swarms of internet-crazed punks idolise any 80's band that barely lasted 18 months and recorded two and a half songs before turning new wave, crucial punk as fuck 90's bands, who kept the flame of DIY punk alive, recorded genuine classics and contributed in the making of networks of punk scenes that we still witness and rely on today, are neglected. Not cool, kids. The first time I read about Coitus was on the distro list of the Nottingham-based Missing the Point sometime in the early 00's. The Coitus' retrospective cd Necrocomical, released on Inflammable Material, was then described, and I am quite sure that those are the almost exact terms, as "Antisect-influenced punk aaarrrghhhhh". Since I was already well into Antisect at the time, almost unreasonably so actually, I promptly ordered the cd but must admit I was a little disappointed, or rather, taken aback by their rocking metallic sound which I did not relate to Antisect at the time (I had only heard In Darkness by then), and it took me to dive into Out from the Void and Peace is Better than a Place in History to understand and enjoy Coitus properly and be able to grasp the significance of their sound. So why - I rhetorically hear you ask - should you need Coitus to make your life crustier then? Well, it is well-established that a flawless and knowledgeable adhesion to the Antisect mystique is a required predicate for the healthy development of one's crust identity but, given the harsh competition in the field, it no longer suffices and it is therefore strongly advised that one also becomes highly proficient in those bands displaying a prominent Antisect influence, like SDS or, in this case, Coitus. And anyway, they were so good that you don't really need a reason, right?

Multinationals, politicians and the army literally raping the Earth in case you didn't get the subtle metaphor. 

Whereas SDS (especially in the early 90's) openly used precise sonic and visual references to Antisect in order to create their own aesthetics and situate their band in terms of relations to the influence of Antisect, Coitus' driving take was very different, much more organic and spontaneous, without referentiality. Coitus took the more rocking, groovy, sweaty side of Out from the Void-era Antisect and built on it with their trademark thundering bass sound, an emphasis on the crunchy dirty metal parts, an obsession with Celtic Frost and a two-fingered attitude. I like to think that if Antisect had kept going in the early 90's and played the same London squats Coitus did, they would have sounded really close indeed. The Darkness on Streets... Ep, released in 1994 on Tribal War Records (UK), was recorded in December, 1992, in Dublin with help from Deko Paranoid Visions, at the same time as their When we Depart... Let the Earth Tremble (tape only) Ep and, in my opinion, this recording sessions stands as the defining Coitus moment (the Submission/Domination tape is stellar too) and an absolute UK crust classic, although the band, to my knowledge did not claim the crust tag. The Ep opens with the anthemic "Darkness on streets", a claustrophobic number of brooding and heavy metallic punk, somewhere between late Antisect, Hellbastard and a squatter version of Motörhead, which is followed by "Total collapse" a beefy mid-paced scorcher that sounds like an old-school crust band covering Poison Idea and, finally, the ultimate Frost-worship song, "Mind right?", which manages to recreate the threatening glamorous groove and the rocking aggression of the Swiss while adequately soiling their sound because that's what punks would do. The production is absolutely perfect for the brand of dirty, rocking and powerful heavy metallic punk the band set out to achieve and I would not change a thing to it. You can almost smell the music on Darkness on Streets... and it is a rotting cocktail of sweat, anger and beer. The band was tight by then - and it really shows - and I especially enjoy how the different vocals - Alien's on side one and Skinny's on side two - blend with and enhance the powerful music but still manage to sound vindictive, desperate and strangely nihilistic and hedonistic at the same time (the long Bukowski quote makes much sense in that regard), like a mad punx choir or something. As Coitus' existence epitomised and as their dark tortured lyrics reflected, punk life was tough but it was both a fighting answer and a means of survival to the urban paranoid oppression and alienation-fueled madness, and few bands could convey this idea as brilliantly as Coitus. In our era of mass tastelessness and punk blandness, (re)listening to the band is strangely comforting.

Following Darkness on Streets..., Coitus recorded the Real Cold Fear Ep, produced by Lippy from Antisect and released in 1996 on Inflammable Material, it was another cracker with the desperate-sounding eponymous song easily breaking the catchiness detector. Skinny moved back to Ireland and was replaced with Keith from Dread Messiah as the two bands often played together, but the band eventually split as the heavy touring took its toll. Mik went on to form The Restarts, Skinny joined Cold War (he died tragically in 2009), while Alien played in Mush with Keith and in Dirty Love with Martin. In 2010, Dublin label Underground Movement released a double-cd discography, Fucked Into Oblivion, including everything the band recorded (apart from the early In Two Minutes tape) and it goes without saying that you should rush to get a copy as it is an essential piece of both UK punk history and crust evolution as well. The last incarnation of Coitus reformed in the 2010's and released two convincing records since, the Fed to Wolves cd in 2015 and a split Lp with the excellent Bulletridden from Bristol in 2018.  
Play fucking loud.

Tuesday 11 August 2020

Ten Steps to Make Your Life CRUSTIER Starting Today (step 7): Doom "The Greatest Invention" cd, 1993

Doom is to the common crusty what complaining is to a French person: both an essential part of the identity and a relevant lifestyle, without which life on Earth would just not be quite the same. 

Since introducing such a widely known, iconic band could be deemed as patronising and needlessly superfluous - if not actually offensive - I shall take care not to condescend to my proud educated readers and therefore won't write anything about the band's conception, a birth that has been well documented anyway and does not require my customary written gesticulations. Everyone knows Doom, at least superficially, and judging from the vast amount of patches, shirts and painted logos one can detect at any summer crust gathering, d-beat gig or Lady Gaga video, it is quite obvious that Doom is a popular band, respected by their peers for their loyalty to the DIY punk scene ("In it for life" as opposed to "In it for cash" if you know what I mean), for their political stands and for their genre-defining sound that really has not changed that much throughout the years, thus emphasising their unshakeable faith in the validity of Swedish-flavoured cavemen crust punk. Not bad for a band that just wanted to be Discard and Crudity. 

Doom's '88/'89 era (referred to in most self-important punk circles as "the Peaceville era") is often what most people, guided by the suspect belief that a band's "early stuff" is always the best, will know about them - unless you are actual fan of the band of course. In spite of an impressive discography, and depressingly enough, it seems that too many of us remained stuck at the absolute classic Police Bastard Ep, or even just at the song "Police bastard", quite possibly the most covered - and butchered - crust song in history. If you are playing in a crust band and you have never tried to cover "Police bastard" or "Relief" then you should really start to ask yourself the right questions. It goes without saying that a comprehensive knowledge of the Doom catalog in relation with their lineup changes is paramount to the establishment of your crust credibility and any faux pas could have devastating consequences to your reputation and get you banned from respectable masonic crust circles. Do you want to end up hanging out with that shirtless drunk guy at the front constantly shouting "P...po...police...bastaaaaaaard"? Of course you don't, and in order to join the club of Real Doom Fans, beside a symbolical yearly fee, a critical analysis of some of the band's most interesting works is necessary and this is exactly what I want to provide here for your personal enlightenment: my personal views on what is probably Doom's least popular album (in fact, even the band dislike it), The Greatest Invention

Recorded in June, 1992, and released on cd and vinyl on Discipline (a hardcore-oriented sublabel of Vinyl Japan) in 1993, The Greatest Invention was the last recording of the original Doom lineup with Bri, Stick, Pete and Jon. The early 90's were a strange period for the band. In 1989, guitar player Bri had left the band, leaving Doom working as a three-piece until 1990 with Jon singing and playing the guitar. At that time, the band tried to include fresh elements to their cavemen scandicore recipe with the addition of slow-paced, heavy and rocking grungy moments with a bit of a psychedelic vibe. The two songs from the band's fourth demo recorded in those months, "Confusion remains" and "Alienation", were dissimilar to anything Doom had done or would subsequently do. Even though listening to a six minute long Doom song is a rather otherworldly experience, I personally would not say they are bad Doom songs as you still get their typical fast d-beat hardcore moments while the heavy slow moments do confer an oppressive atmosphere. The songs would have required some polishing in terms of songwriting but the idea of blending direct crust with heavy psychedelic rock was anything but poor as bands like Bad Influence, Dazd or Iowaska would eventually demonstrate. What if Doom had kept experimenting with this new formula? Would they have become a proper space crust unit? If you come from a parallel universe where this happened, please feel free to comment below.

In 1992, the band got offered a tour in Japan which prompted the four original members to reform and resurrect Doom for the occasion (the trip was immortalised in the Live in Japan Ep on Ecocentric Records). Considering that Doom have always been a tremendous influence for the Japanese crust scene (from Macrofarge, to Abraham Cross or Reality Crisis), such an endeavour made sense and I am convinced that the tour further strengthened the cult of Doom there, so much so that, almost 30 years later, more than a few Japanese bands still aim poetically and gutturally at sounding like early Doom. Back from their trip, the band recorded the Greatest Invention, a mini Lp which was to be the definitive swan song of the original lineup. The personal (and probably creative) tensions running through the band at that time were important and pervasive and you can just sense that The Greatest Invention was not recorded in a serene context. It is a very dark and edgy album. Of course, Doom's earlier material had a very angry and pissed edge too but, by 1992, they sounded like a desperate band about to self-destruct in an explosion of mean, vicious and hopeless hardcore music. The Greatest Invention is unlike any other Doom records. Not because of the admittedly poor production, but partly because of a substantial change in the songwriting and primarily because it sounds almost nihilistic. 

Although The Greatest Invention has its fair share of classic Doom numbers ("Trash breeds trash" being a genuine hit), it is undeniably the band's most versatile work. Thanks to added effects (like the flanger on the ace "Dig your grave" for instance) and textures on the guitar, the music is openly dissonant and eerie at times, with a lot of feedback and fuzzy distortion altering the mood of the original Doom formula. The more noticeable change lies in the presence of slow-paced, heavy psychedelic crusty rock songs, with the Saw Throat-on-shrooms "Drop out", and especially the nine minute long (!) "My pornography", an oppressive Godflesh-y industrial crust number that sounds about as joyful as the grinding noise of a sinking ship. It is obvious that Doom were not only trying new things musically but also craving to modify the vibe of old, to apply a new varnish to it. You could argue that the nine songs making up The Greatest Invention have a disparate feel to them, that for a Doom album - whose template is officially based on the repetition of gruff scandi-influenced cavecrust numbers with a couple of groovy mid-paced ones thrown in for good measure - it is too diverse and not straight-forward enough. While I agree that the album lacks unity and cohesion (more songs and a proper Lp format instead of a mini would have helped in that regard), the angry tension and raging heaviness permeating the work, whatever the songs' pace, make The Greatest Invention one of my favourite Doom recordings. Just listen to the new version of "Same mind" (only included on the cd version for some reason) and how tormented and pissed it sounds, to the filthy old-school crust vibe of "Dig your grave", to the Cimex nods in the pummeling "Worthless nothing", to the heavy punk cover of the Dead Wretched's anthem "No justice" pointing to Doom's local punk roots beside being one of the band's best covers. In spite of the thin production, all the songs are actually memorable and punishing in their own way and on the whole it remains an incandescent work and an apt farewell for that incarnation of Doom. 

Doom would keep going with a different lineup throughout the 90's but never really experimented as much as on The Greatest Invention, which is also paradoxically their shortest album to date. I tend to see Jon's subsequent band, the magnificent Police Bastard, where he played the guitar and sang, as building on certain ideas touched upon in Doom's 1992 Lp, and, albeit to a slightly lesser extent, the same could be said about Bugeyed, Bri's heavy noise rock project with members of Pleasant Valley Children, so I suppose the desire to write something different had to be expressed anyway. 

The cover is quite striking (but Doom's covers usually are) and decidedly dark with a man being shot in the head and an endless river of weapons (bombs, guns, knives, you name it) flowing out of the bullet hole. Perhaps the name "Doom" (for the first time with the new font they would keep using later on) was never as ominous and apt as on The Greatest Invention. The doom of Doom indeed.   

Wednesday 5 August 2020

Ten Steps To Make Your Life CRUSTIER Starting Today (step 6): Sarcasm "Your Funeral My Party" Ep, 1991

Yes, you guessed it. Once more, I am going to rave wildly and without any restraint, with an excitement similar to that of a teenage punk upon finding a rusty Blitz badge crushed on a sticky venue's floor, over a 90's band that embarrassingly few people seem to care about nowadays. And, mind you, it won't even be my first time since I already wrote about Sarcasm in 2012 (no less than eight years ago according to my calculator! o-m-g!!!) and yet, in spite of my very positive review of their Brave new World Ep, it saddens me to say that the band has not seen any spike in popularity for the past decade. I have to admit that this horrific realisation made me feel like a crust army general, standing upon a hill and about to charge headlong at the enemy (at, say, a legion of shoegazers), and taking one last look, before unleashing the fury, at his glorious orc-like troops lying in wait behind him and... seeing no one there at all since everybody fucked off because they suddenly all remembered at the same time that they were really into postpunk after all. However, being a resilient bastard basically unwilling to face the truth with a genetic predisposition for Alzheimer disease, I was bound to try again and spread the good word about Sarcasm.

Did you know there was a late 80's Slovenian speed metal band called Sarcasm? No, neither did I. Or a mid-80's crossover hardcore band from New York also called Sarcasm and even humbly referred to as "The Original Sarcasm" on youtube? Well, I did not know them either, and if the rather typical New York hardcore boasting does not come as a surprise, NYC Sarcasm may not have been the first Sarcasm around since the first incarnation of Leicester's Sarcasm had their first run in 1984. If you want more details about the band's story (and you should in fact crave for more details), as usual, a dive into Trapped in a Scene and a lovely cup of tea come highly recommended, but strictly out of crustian charity, I am required to provide at least some intel about the band. At the start, during their existence in the mid-80's, Sarcasm endeavoured to be as noizy as possible and were influenced by the likes of the legendary Skum Dribblurzzz (which they considered as their mentors and even covered) or the mighty Dirge and could therefore relevantly be seen as being part of the noisiest part of the squat-loving UK hardcore punk spectrum that also welcomed such hugely talented acts as Asylum (from Stoke), Eat Shit, No Brain Cells or System Sikness and religiously drank scrumpy at the altar of Bristol's punk gods Chaos UK and Disorder. Sadly, I have never had the privilege to enjoy the noizy chaotic punk sound of early Sarcasm but for some reason but I still know how it sounds: fast and fuzzy and fun and gloriously ear-damaging.

The second coming of Sarcasm took place in 1989 and their subsequent noisy career was well documented with three full Ep's, two split Ep's (with Sanctus Iuda and Wojczech), a split tape with CFDL as well as other demo and tape recordings. Today's post will focus on the band's first Ep, Your Funeral My Party, that was released in 1991 on Rotthenness Records from Sao Paolo, a label specialised in grindcore. The Ep was actually a reissue of Sarcasm's first demo that was originally distributed as a tape at gigs (no idea what it looked like as it is not on discogs) although judging from the crunchy, powerful sound, you would not guess that it was "just" a demo recording (done in only 8 hours!). By the time Sarcasm reformed, singer and songwriter Mark had played the guitar in Extreme Noise Terror (you can hear him on A Holocaust in Your Head and the second Peel Session) and guitar player Barney was formerly in Dirge so you can imagine without too much trouble what the revived Sarcasm sounded like in the early 90's: a noizy and crusty thrash attack.

If maximum crust cred is to be achieved, as we have seen, anything less than a substantial mastery of the stenchcore canon will not do and if you have to spend sleepless nights learning the early Peaceville catalog by heart, then so be it. However, filthy metallic crust punk cannot suffice if you aim to become a well rounded crust lord prone to display an impeccable piosity so that it is crucial that you develop a sensible expertise in the noizier branch of the crust philosophy, primarily influenced by the sophisticated works of the Bristol and Kyushu schools, and more generally 80's hardcore bands that believed in the curative powers of distortion, glue and really fast music. Sarcasm is a fun band to listen to - and I say this with the utmost respect - especially on this recording which truly conveys their intent to make a bloody racket and enjoying themselves in the process. Starting with the song "Suppression" which opens with a deliciously filthy stenchcore introduction, à la Deviated Instinct, before diving headfirst into cavemen crust oblivion, Your Funeral My Party is an intense listening experience and if you are looking for nine minutes of extravagant aural savagery, it will be your thing. While the aforementioned "Suppression" and "Crisis point" can be described as aggressively gruff and distorted cavecrust numbers reminiscent of Extreme Noise Terror, Doom or early Disrupt but with a Bristol vibe, the four remaining songs are shorter and faster, highlighting the band's talent for revisiting the mid-80's Disorder/Chaos UK hardcore sound, not unlike Plasmid, Dirge or Insurrection but with a heavier sound and a nod toward Gai and raw Japanese hardcore. I love the hyperbolic, insanity-driven crusty vocals and the classic "low growls reply to high-pitched barks" pattern. Primitive and gnarly noizy crusty UK hardcore thrash or something. Whatever you want to call it, this Ep is a proper delight if you like old-school ear-slaughtering hardcore punk that smells like cider and squats and, on some odd ontological level, Sarcasm sound like what their font look like. Right?

As you can imagine from the title of the Ep - which I personally adore - the lyrics are quite angry and direct indeed with songs against popstars (with the classic line "Don't give me one of their record, or I'll stick it up your ass"), the rich, politicians and the fucking system. The following Ep, The Lowest Form of Wit released in 1992 on Tribal War Records, might even be better and, well, even crustier. I strongly recommend the compilation of all their vinyl output, entitled Noise Bastards Vol. 1: a Collection of Ep's and Splits released in 2007 on Impulso Ruin from Peru.

This Ep kills posers.