If you are unaware of Terminal Sound Nuisance's resolutions for 2022, please read the first entry to the brand new series Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust - it is my family motto if you must know, with our coat of arms depicting a cheap-looking plastic battle axe and a half-empty cider bottle. We like to keep things realistic. For the tenth anniversary of the blog, I will focus only on modern, contemporary crust recordings that I enjoyed in the past ten years in order to illustrate how important it is to support new bands, distros, what's left of the fanzine scene or gig promoters (cough cough, and blogs, cough cough). As much as I revere the old classics just like your average snobby nerd, new and active bands are those who keep the punk scene alive and interesting ("new and active" also includes heroic old farts who will keep crusting until the end of times, hail to them). Reviews will be shorter (?) but there will be more of them. Basically less anecdotes about my thrilling life but still my proverbial jocularity.
I first heard of Deformed Existence when planning my trip to Osaka in 2018 for the All Crusties Insane Noise Victim festival. I had never been to Japan and a brilliant lineup in addition to the last ever Gasmask Terror gig convinced me that the time, indeed, had come. I had a great time of course although I drank myself into a stupor like a twat on the first night, got lost on the way back to the hostel, overslept and missed bands on the day after that I had specifically flown to see. A cultural practice also known as "in true French fashion". I still feel like the ultimate bellend for this unforgivable misgiving although I suppose it does make for a good story and, at the very least, gets me some extra punk points (right?). More details about that fateful trip will be added in due time throughout the series (possibly as a cliffhanger at the end of the season three's finale or something). But back to today's topic since I actually saw Deformed Existence during the All Crusties Insane Noise Victim (a very apt name for the lineup).
I remember reading the band's moniker on the poster online before leaving and wondered inquisitively what this lot were about. Let's deal with the lexical elephant in the room right now: "Deformed Existence" sounds exceedingly like classic 90's band's moniker "Deformed Conscience". In fact, to this day, older punks have proved to be almost completely unable to pronounce "Deformed Existence" correctly. They always end up overheating, awkwardly mumbling something like "Deformed Conscistence", collapsing on the floor and having to be turned on and off again. Typical. I obviously love Deformed Conscience - I am not a poser - but even a renowned man of letters like myself struggle to properly pronounce Deformed Existence, and I do actually like the name a lot (which, I suspect, must refer more to Reality Crisis' Deformed Society than Connecticut's crust stalwarts). I quickly guessed, thanks to my innate deductive power, that they were a young band since I could not find any song from them online and indeed they had that young-band feel on stage. Upon asking around, several rumours seemed to indicate what I already knew in my bones: they were an old-school crust band. Of course, it was only a hypothesis which needed to be confirmed with the scientific method, in this case fucking off to Osaka and enjoying the noise (and drinking far too much for my wimpish constitution).
DE played quite early on the first day of the festival - at King Cobra Squat of course - and were very enjoyable. The omnipotence of streaming platform and the pressure to always be connected and updated about this week's new bands have made us very difficult to surprise. We are all guilty of systematically checking out bands before seeing them live or buying their records so that we seldom get to watch a band we have never heard before at all (the first gig of your mates' new bands do not count and you only have to endure a couple of songs out of forced friendship anyway). Even though I knew it was going to be crust - crust pants were involved to dissipate any possible doubts - it was a pleasant feel to watch a band I knew I was going to like but did not know yet but it might have been the booziness talking.
After thirty years of passionate War Crimes worship, you would think the impact of Doom on crust-loving Japanese punks would be less preponderant than in it was in the 90's. You would be quite mistaken, it is still pretty much intact, acting like an ancestral source of power for the local rags-core punks. So, of course, and it won't come as a surprise: DE also love Doom. But they love Doom in a way that is both traditionally deferential and somewhat original (to a degree, it is still Doom-loving cavecrust, don't expect ska breaks). From what I gathered, DE formed as a three-piece around 2015 and are based in Niigata, although drummer Yoichi - who also hits things with the fantastic Asocial Terror Fabrication and plays guitar for the long-running Voco Protesta - is from Tokyo. There is apparently a 4-track demo crd predating this tape but I haven't been able to hear it and I suspect it must be a rougher version of Hate with Patriotism's songs.
From the opening introduction "Catastrophe", you get a distinct idea of where the band is sailing toward, as it is a tasteful blend of Doom's "Confusion" and the opening of "Means to an end". The discerning crusty would be quick to jump to the conclusion that DE is then going to unleash a barrage of gruff early Doom worship like the classical Japanese bands Abraham Cross/early Reality Crisis did. But that's where, as discerning as one might think to be, you would be - partly- wrong as DE have a very strong 90's crust vibe (more mid-90's Doom than '88), even reminiscent of 90's eurocrust, not a common occurrence in Japan. In terms of vocals, singer Kubo sounds very much like Tom Croft, who stood behind the microphone for Doom for most of the 90's and had a very Swedish-like aggressive, direct and threatening style, while most Doom-like bands go for the emphatic gruff style of Jon. To my great delight, DE's sound is strongly rooted in that 90's style, and as well as Doom - and the inescapable Japanese love for Sore Throat - other top cavecrust bands of the era definitely come to mind like 93'/95' Hiatus, Excrement of War or Private Jesus Detector (although they always claimed that they were a raw Dis-loving hardcore punk band and not crust which they associated with the more metallic sort of school which made sense in the late 80's/early 90's) but I am also reminded of pioneering just-like-Discharge d-beat bands like Disaster or Meanwhile and even Hellkrusher. And to keep gratifying myself at my own acuity, let's throw some national points of comparison like the aforementioned kings of Doom-love Abraham Cross and '93/'95 Battle of Disarm as DE share a similar sweeping, seemingly unstoppable power.
DE's music is simple and energetic with appropriate dark riffs, some welcome spoken parts and a desperate angry feel running through the music. The tape has eight songs for about 17 minutes of crispy pummeling crust so it feels like a serious work that could easily appear on vinyl. I have to say that I was rather surprised by the guitar sound at times as it uses uncommon effects (flanger? chorus? some guitar magic?) for the genre. I do enjoy it a lot as it one of the elements that makes DE subtly stand out despite the traditional, unambiguous and therefore very sharply defined crust style. The band's lyrics are also better than most given the template with "Merchant of death" tackling patriotism and "Elitists" being a criticism of the superficiality and artificiality of some corners of the punk scene. The insert displays a reworked Doom cloud logo at its centre (in case you forgot for a minute what you are holding in your grubby hands) while the black-and-white cover and the fount nod toward the classic 90's crust aesthetics. Hate with Patriotism was released in 2019 on Doomed to Extinction, a label based in California but run by a Serbian punk, that has been releasing some of the best crust records - among other styles - of the past decade. A cracking label whose productions we will be seeing again in Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust.
Now, there is the retro 90's crust band I had been waiting for. More of that please.