Monday 22 November 2021

UK84, the Noise Ain't Dead (part 2): Dead Meat "Demo 1984" Ep, 2011

To be perfectly honest with you, finding titles for the full series I have been inflicting on the punk scene for five years now is becoming harder and harder. When I initially started Terminal Sound Nuisance in 2012, the thought of undertaking proper series structured coherently around specific tropes and prism (subgenres, areas, eras or random personal fancies) had not struck me as being particularly relevant to a blog. Of course, I was wrong - I rarely am but I don't mind admitting shortcomings when I reluctantly have to - series are more relevant indeed and about five years ago I realized that, not only does the series format allows me to develop my analysis further and progressively, but it also provides a framework reflecting global collective dynamics in punk rock rather than isolated items just happening to gravitate together. Beside, everyone is pissing about watching actual series on Shitflix so that it made sense to jump on the bandwagon and write eight, ten or twelve part online conferences to reach out to the Gen Z. I haven't quite caught up to the famous platform and tragically had to let some of TSN staff go, some genuinely deserving loyal workers had to be put down in order to avoid dishonour, but I remain quite optimistic about the future. Netflix, if you're reading me, you know what to do.

There are significant drawbacks, of course, to series format. You actually have to make relevant selections that highlight both the binding similarities and the diversity of context and content (or on the contrary, the significance of non-diversity like in the case of "just-like Discharge" d-beat) and this process involves more thinking and reflection. A series literally has to make more sense. And you have to plan a precise writing schedule in advance so that you do not end up leaving long gaps between the entries which, because of our narrowing attention span, would lose my modern fellow sapients always eager for novelties. One of the drawbacks I had not predicted at all has to do with titles. I have often prided myself on my skill to easily find top punk puns that make me look both knowledgeable, witty and self-aware, which might be akin to being a punchable twat in some illiterate quarters but is a sensible stance given the polishedness of my readership. A series' title has to sound good, otherwise the modern sapient will not even bother to click on the link and hours of hard work will just be swiped away like the average selfie of a vaguely attractive and muscular wanker. We sadly live in a world where one has to bait innocent punks into reading, as opposed to heary a bloody podcast, what could be a revelation, a redemption, a way out of shoegaze or Casualties cosplay. I am like a missionary promoting Anarcho Crustianity. But for conversions to work, you need a good pun that grabs the readers' fragile attention and sometimes I feel I have run out of them. It's not like I am going to test my jokes on random passersby because I don't think they would quite understand why "let's not discard Discard" is side-splittinh. So if I don't at least giggle at my own jokes, it means they are rubbish and do not make the cut. Simple as that. For this series however I just chose the name of a Dead Meat song for the title. 


As I immersed myself into 1984/1985 British hardcore punk for the series, I listened to many raw recordings, drank a lot of white cider and sniffed some glue - an organic brand, I'm not an animal - to get myself in the right mood. When I finally got to Dead Meat and played the demo, I immediately knew upon hearing the first song that the title of this series would have to be "Noise ain't dead". Dead Meat was one of the bands I was almost certain to include in the series as they ideally reflected the core principle of the series: typically British mid-80's raw and noisy hardcore punk. Not necessarily the harshest or meanest bands, just recordings illustrating what was being done and created with the Discharge and Bristol sound - which I call early UK hardcore punk in the context of that series - at that time and place. And to me Dead Meat were a great example of that and because they do not get much attention nowadays - which I have always found odd especially since the UK82 resurgence in the past decade led everyone and their mum to be superficially conversant in obscure acts without even mentioning that No Dead Meat (the continuation of Dead Meat) were actually briefly tackled in Glasper's Burning Britain in the chapter about Septic Psychos - it felt like a noble task to write about them.


Let's have a bit of context first. Though it is not completely clear, this being a demo recorded in 1984 and given the rather rudimentary musicianship of the band - not a criticism, it is exactly how that style should sound like - I guess DM started out sometime in early 1984 in the Chesterfield area (Derbyshire). As it is pointed out in Burning Britain and alluded to on the insert coming with the Ep, the members of the band had already played in other punk bands prior to the noise not being dead. Vocalist Chiz used to sing in Septic Psychos, a band that also had his twin brother Mick who would eventually join the No Dead Meat version of the band. If you have never heard Septic Psychos and are able to go past or learn to appreciate the silly moniker, which you should, they were a primal and raw UK82 band with angry snotty vocals that had two songs (recorded at Stockport's legendary Hologram Studios) on Pax compilation Lp Punk Dead - Nah Mate the Smell is jus Summink in yer Underpants innit in 1983 (how did they tell their parents the name of that record they were included on remains a mystery) and will have you shout "No you're not wanted!" in no time. DM's guitar player John and original bass player Rich used to play in Society's Victims (hallowed be Discharge's name), a local band whose rough primitive punk sound was even cruder than Septic Psychos' (the dodgy, if not completely haphazard, tuning cannot have helped). Finally, the drummer played in a band called The Corpse, not to be confused with the anarchopunk band Corpse (I think?). One could think that the boys, upon the split of their respective bands, would have chosen to go for a more polished, refined, mature style, but did they fuck! Dead Meat is even rawer, snottier, angrier and blatantly PUNK. 


What I particularly enjoy in that recording is how the songs instantly sound familiar. Take "Noise ain't dead" for instance. If you are keen on second wave UK punk-rock or any sort of 80's spiky and pogoable punk-rock really, you just know what the song is going to sound like upon hearing the first riff. Classic raucous singalong shouted chorus, fast pogopunk 1-2-1-2 beat, raw as fuck guitar sound with sloppy solos, pissed meancing vocals, this is exactly the sound of the Saturday nights of my teenage years where you get ready for a night out on the piss or for a squat gig (I used to listen to the Dutch Antidote on those occasions and the feel in DM is very similar). This shit could raise the dead. Is it really a wonder that the band also had a promotion agency called... Noiz Ain't Dead? I don't think I need to describe the band further but let's say that it sounds like a friendly but chaotic speed-fueled brawl between Instant Agony, Disorder, Last Rites and Ad'Nauseam. A lot of people today posit that the heritage of the Bristol sound of Chaos UK and Disorder is to be found in distorted, noise-drenched hardcore punk but I would argue that bands like DM, for their attitude and obnoxious primal approach to fast punk, can also be considered as belonging to that punk-as-fuck tradition. The six songs included on the Ep (there is a reworking of a Society's Victims' song, "Takin over") were originally released on an excellent tape compilation in 1985 entitled The Final Decay where you can find other UK82 pogopunk gems from the aforementioned Ad'Nauseam, the little-known but ace Reprisal or Death Zone. It is a solid tape that deserves to be revisited if you are interested in proper raw and primitive 1984 British punk-rock. Real deal here. The reissue of the 1984 recording was made possible thanks to Fear of War Records, an American label also responsible for reissue of The Mad Are Sane, Italy's Impact, Tom & the Boot Boys and, of course, Septic Psychos. It is a safe bet that the person behind Fear of War must be something of a pogo expert.

Shortly after this recording, the band changed its name to No Dead Meat (because two members went vegetarian) and Mick from Septic Psychos eventually joined them on the bass guitar and took part in their second offering, a 14-song demo in 1987 which saw them delivering the same exact blend of fast and loud direct UK pogopunk with "new" versions of old Dead Meat numbers. The sound might be a little better and the band tighter but it's pretty much similar and it is precisely why it is perfect. Noise ain't dead and noise will never die, innit?

Noise ain't dead!!! 


  1. hey there. i really like this demo! was jamming it a couple of weeks ago, and i'm really stoked about the fact there is another demo, the one you named when they became no dead meat!
    is there a chance to hear it too?

  2. hallo there, the No Dead Meat used to be available on that Nation on Fire blog years ago so it is probably still floating around on soulseek. I presume it is nowhere to be heard on youtube? If I can get to it, I will upload it and add a link on this writeup.