Friday, 22 January 2021

How Crust Survived the Millennium Bug (Part 2): Consume "Forked Tongue" Ep, 2003

Serious talk. Modern society has grown to be ruled by an endless cycle of frustrations temporarily relieved with virtual gratifications quickly spoiled and cut short witg new frustrations and so on. Our culture of instantaneity hasn't just significantly reduced our attention span - as it was being jeopardized for a long time and its eventual sacrifice to the ogreish youtube should surprise only the most inanely deluded - it has also, in the same movement, greatly shortened the lifespan of every cultural items and artifacts produced in this new age, be it movies, fashion, music or even food. Punk music, by which I mean all genres, subgenres and subgenres' subgenres, has too fallen prey to such a mode of relating and engaging to the art produced by our collective culture. This could hardly be called groundbreaking news and our social behaviours have been made much more conspicuous online than they ever were but, unless we pause to look at ourselves carefully, we sometimes do not realize it, or rather, we are aware of it but choose to store it in the denial facility of our brain and only comment upon it in an ironic and detached postmodern fashion. Cheap marketing techniques applied to the DIY punk economy make us endlessly and feverishly jump from band to band, so eager not to miss on the latest hype of a hot label that will be replaced with yet another hyped band in three months. Perhaps it was always like this and the new technological tools only made the vanity fair more visible and although I am no cunning university scholar with a PhD in sociology and an inflated air of self-importance (I am just innately pompous), I still know the punk basics and it pains to see how wrong Infa-Riot were. Five minute fashions are very much here to stay.
Those solemn thoughts crossed my mind upon watching some early 90's wrestling match involving the legendary André "the Giant". It was not a great one as he was already barely able to wrestle properly but it reminded me of that hipsterish brand shamelessly using André's face that many a trendy wanker craved for some years ago: Obey. At some point, their bloody logo could be seen in every fashionable and supposedly "edgy" gentrified neighbourhoods of the capital and I remember feeling the burning desire to inflict surgical German suplexes to all the knobheads who defiled the great André. The name of the brand also illustrated the eloquent paradox of modernity since all those people ironically wearing the injunction to obey in order to assert their dislike of "the mainstream" were in fact displaying their obedience to the herd mentality inherent in fashion and a desperate will to fit in with the cool crowd. The unique taste of millions indeed. At least the Obey brand could be used as a highly efficient hipster detector and that's still something, right? Of course the name "obey" referred to John Carpenter's cult subversive movie They Live, starred by the magnificent Rowdy Roddy Piper so that the brand managed to be insulting to two iconic wrestlers (you could definitely add a figure-four leg lock to the aforementioned suplex). And then by a strange association of ideas, I started to think about the band Consume, another reference to They Live, but one that, stemming from a DIY political crust punk band, made far more sense and was absolutely deprived of cheap and smug irony. So I played their records, some had not seen my turntable for quite some time, really enjoyed them and started to think about a new series with only 00's crust bands that deserve to be held in the highest regard and be said to be, with firmness, the dog's bollocks.

Although Consume did not play for that long, they left a significant mark on the crust-oriented punks in the early and mid-00's and whenever you mention their name, the general consensus appears to be, by and large, that Consume were great on records and savage on stage. Regrettably, I missed them on their European tour with Hellshock in 2003 because I was living in Manchester at the time and, like an unperceptive nincompoop, I imagined that I would just catch them the next time and did not bother coming home for the occasion. But you can't cheat karma and Hellshock never played in Paris again and, to this day, I feel a gnawing jealousy toward my undeserving friends who were actually at the gig. Following this tour, it seemed that every crusty and their dogs had Consume patches or shirts which only made it more damaging for the morale. Reflecting on this, it is both quite amusing and revealing to notice how the display of a given patch indicated one's presence at a particular gig, acting as a dependable crust radiocarbon dating. Perhaps that, in the future, head-scratching archaeologists will struggle to date with accuracy the mummified crusties they found under derelict distro tables but, future Professor Grants, if they do have Consume patches on their bumbags, their involvement in the scene in the early 00's is a safe estimate (that academic researchers have any access to Terminal Sound Nuisance after the apocalypse is another question entirely). A couple of years later the same phenomenon could be observed with another band whose name bloomed on many a pair of crust pants and sleeveless jacket as well, Pisschrïst, and like Consume, the band was a powerhouses live (one I never had the chance to witness...), a description that even punks generally unconcerned about d-beat hardcore agreed to. 

Based in Seattle, Consume's relative popularity also originated from the reliable pedigree of its members: Jay had played in the mighty State of Fear back in Minneapolis and, of course, the legendary Disrupt, Jim had been a member of Shitlist, of the rather underrated Decrepit (alongside drummer Jon) and of Whorehouse of Representatives, while Ryan had done time in the grinding Cephlatripe. This lineage certainly informed not only Consume's sound but also their reputation, and, to an extent, people's esteem for them. This said, they were probably too good to even need to rely on their 90's punk adventures anyway. Although I missed them, my mates had not therefore would occasionally burst into dithyrambs on Consume's merits. The band's records were on heavy rotation and, because they provided a brilliant template for feral-yet-rocking crust hardcore with pissed lyrics, they were a major influence on us. We also relished the faster more Mob 47-inspired take of State of Fear and Disrupt's mid-90's uncontainable fury, of course, and Consume appeared to blend both with dramatic ease. Despite their relatively brief run, Consume released many records, although they only did two recording sessions, one in February, 2003, at Seattle's Mount Analogue, when they recorded 17 songs that would appear on split Ep's with rising stenchcore heavyweights Hellshock and Resolve (a Minneapolis team with former members of Detestation, State of Fear and Scorned among others), this Forked Tongue Ep, the Who's the Real Monster Ep (with an angry white shark on the cover like External Menace on their split with Recharge) and a mysterious compilation Ep on Spiral Records that was never released. Insane Society then issued a self-titled cd in 2004 including all the songs from that first session. In August, 2003, Consume came back to the same studio to put nine new songs to tape for a split Lp with Born/Dead on Yellow Dog Records. That makes 26 songs in a single year, which might suggest that the band had devised some kind of käng riff machine that no one knows about. 

In terms of style, Consume could be found at the intersection between the familiar riff-driven 90's käng path and the well-trodden 90's crustcore one. An explosive recipe indeed. Totally free from the pomposity of neocrust (or epicrust), Consume proved to be able to pull out all the variations and paces of d-beat with apparent ease. From the slower hard-hitting one (aka dad's d-beat), to the more traditionally framed (trad d-beat) or the frantic mangel (c-beat), the six songs that make up Forked Tongue encompass the whole range of d-beat. Variety in D major, so to speak. Another strength of Consume lied in the actual songwriting. The riffs are always accurate, impactful and groovy and thanks to a great rough dual vocal work, all the songs become quite memorable. Although I had not played the Ep for a long time, I still remembered every hooks and arrangements and it has held up very well in my opinion. Consume's rocking vibe never impaired their ability to sound seriously aggressive and incisive like a friendly but intense melee between Disrupt, Tolshock, React, State of Fear and Uncurbed. Happiness and glee do not exactly emanate from Consume's lyrics which tackle in an in-your-face fashion our disconnect with nature, pollution, The United States' outrageous treatment of Native Americans throughout the ages (hence the visuals on the covers and the Ep's title) or the dark recesses depression with the song "Rise", their better and most poignant words on the record. 
Forked Tongue was released on Portland's Dissonant Sound Industries, a short-lived early 00's label that also put out records from Protest Stagnation (the label owner played in the band) and Poland's Antichrist. I think that drummer Jon stayed in Europe (Barcelona, I think) after the end of the tour and formed the excellent crust punk tornado Cop On Fire with members of Ekkaia. The remaining members of Consume would form Deathraid in 2007, a band that is still gloriously running and that I see as the logical continuation of the sound and mentality that Consume embraced at the beginning of the noughties. A very fine band with members that have been flying the filthy flag of hardcore crust with dedication and heart for a long time.    



  1. Man, you're great! You bring some good memories back in my head. Saw them a few times on tour with HELLSHOCK and ASSCHAPEL. I have to Look in the shallow of my cave, I think I have some live recordings from this tour (Eisenberg/H2O-Tower and Halle/Reil78). Hope I find them.

    1. Let me know if you do find them. And Asschapel... I hadn't thought about them for a long time! I remember them being great live but I should see if their records still hold up.

    2. Jon here from consume,let me know if anyone has any live recordings..cheers!

  2. Consume's best offering! Prefered this over the "Who's the Real Monster?" EP.