Contrary to the latest entries of Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust, this Ep actually got some publicity when it came out last year. A part of me would malevolently enjoy suggesting that this - necessarily undeserved - attention has to do with the town of origin of Horrendous 3D, Portland, but that would just be embarrassingly envious ravings as the band's Ep is objectively one of the best crust Ep's of the 2020's, which is not that much of a feat considering we are only in 2022 but it is nonetheless still something I would take any day with my band. I remember being rather jealous of PDX bands in the early/mid 00's and would often claim that, had they not been from this glorious hardcore punk town that had been consistently delivering quality bands since the 1980's, people would not care as much for them and maybe, instead, would give some attention to my own band, which was itself a rather poor attempt at sounding like a PDX band that was not fooling anyone really, apart from our own selves. Our high point as a band was to empty three venues in a row. And effortlessly too. Here's talent for you.
So H3D - the acronym looks like the name of a Star Wars robot droid - did get some attention and even got reviewed. I noticed at least three proper reviews of the geezer from people who do not exactly seem to be your crasher crust deviants. I suppose that the record being released on Frank's (from the brilliant Lebenden Toten and my beloved Atrocious Madness) excellent label Whisper in Darkness did help H3D getting noticed but it is also, and primarily in fact, a strong Ep in its own right so that the attention is not unwarranted (like I feel it is sometimes for bands boasting long "ex-member lists"). What really surprised me is that even people who would not be caught dead holding a Sore Throat did buy the record. Don't get me wrong, these people are not prejudiced against crust punks. They will insist that they had a crust punk friend at school (that one of their cousins inexplicably ran out with one night never to be heard of again) and own a copy of Police Bastard although they just can't find it right now. Unexpected but nonetheless pleasant as it did briefly validate my tastes. Needless to say that they probably played H3D once and fucked off listening to trendy postpunk right away.
At first, the moniker perplexed me a little, especially since I am pretty big on Sweden's "just like" d-beat band Horrendous. I suppose the addition of "3D" does reinforce the atmosphere of paranoia, mind manipulation and lsd that is also conveyed by the astonishing artwork so I got used to it in the end, and, at least, they did not go for a Disclose song and it makes the name easy to remember. H3D are fresh blood as well and judging from a video, none of them seems to have a bad back, so they may even be relatively young by 2020's punk standards. The band released a demo in 2019 that I genuinely enjoyed and, while it would a bit of an overstatement to say that I was anxiously waiting for a piece of vinyl, I was still sufficiently impressed to keep a close eye on the situation in PDX, like a majestic friendly but still awe-inspiring (vegan) eagle hovering over the world crustness. Or something. What I particularly related to was the band's ability to blend the classic and emphatic Kyushu noiziness with the insane song structures and drumming of 90's Japanese crasher crust and the traditional old-school UK cavemen crust sound, while still keeping with a local tradition represented by the aforementioned Lebenden Toten and Atrocious Madness. Too many bands spend hours fiddling with their pedals and their textures and tend to forget to actually write actual songs. If you listen closely to Gloom or Collapse Society, you will notice that there is some genuine songwriting taking place and I feel that H3D (and bands like Fragment or Avvikelsse to name a few other) manage to balance a deliciously distorted, madness-inducing sound with actual songwriting.
With a title that is longer that an early Proust sentence and is basically a paraphrase of big data, The Gov. does more than just offer a better recorded version of the H3D style, since the Ep tells you a whole story thanks to the change of paces (the band jumps from sludge-like stenchcore to relentless crasher käng moments and late Confuse noize), the versatile drumming, unexpected brilliant transitions, demented solos and psychedelic noisepunk bits. It's more than just four random songs assembled together, it is a seven-minute long crust story that is being told and that is exactly what makes the Ep memorable. There is a hidden level of referentiality in H3D's music as well. Beside the obvious influences, some Easter Eggs are included in some songs that you can only notice if you majored in Doom Studies. At some point in "Option?" the relentlessly pummeling music stops and then a über-distorted noize crust version of Doom's opening to their cover of Sabbath's "Symptoms of the universe", only present of a Peel Session, kicks in before the singer growls a couple of words and the battering continues. Similarly, the closing song of their demo "A claw reaches out from the abyss" uses a techno sample that was also used by Doom on The Greatest Invention Lp as an introduction to their opening song "Happy pill". Of course, you do not need to get the references encoded into the music to enjoy H3D's relentless noise crust bollocking but I like to think that these hidden nods are multilayered: first, a way to profess their love for classic Doom, their connection with Doom-loving bands who also use such references (the previously reviewed Napalm Raid's Lp comes to mind, especially they worked on the same bit of Doom legacy), and their love for people who live for that type of nerdy Doom references. That's a lot of love for the initiated.
It is an ace Ep and it sounds massive and crushing, blown out but absolutely relentless. Imagine D-Clone and Defector getting wankered on the shrooms provided by Total Noise Accord at a Doom conference organized by Sarcasm and taking place at the PDX headquarters of Crust War Records and chatting about dementia and mass manipulation at the age of big data. This love for crust psychedelia is also reflected in the paranoia-inducing lyrics and the short text (probably an extract or a summary from a longer one) about big data and algorithmic control. The artwork of The Gov. Ep is a bit of a Marmite deal. You either love it or hate it. I have read people comparing it to the mid/late 80's Bluurg records visuals (he probably had Open Mind Surgery and some Culture Shock and AOS3 tapes in mind) and it was not done as a compliment. I personally do not dislike it, it does have a messy, teeming retro look (a bit Oi Polloi-ish I feel), not unlike a lot of 90's crust records (the circled A and E as well as the celtic knots, poorly drawn skulls and an oddly proportioned dove are here to remind you of that legacy) generally unhindered by good taste. I suppose the cover is also meant to illustrate the dementia and chaos inherent in modern postindustrial societies. There is a poster included too, another great initiative reminiscent of the heyday of generic yet lovable anarcho-crust, that is equally as brimming with punk as fuck cartoons and clearer in term of symbolism. A man with the lower part of the body missing (pulled apart we're led to believe) is surrounded by chaos, death and overall nastiness but he does not realize it since he has some sort of virtual reality helmet on that makes him see an idealized peaceful city instead of the grim reality. Dystopian stuff. Although if such a technological device would allow me to watch an 1986 Antisect gig as if I were actually there, would I take it? Would you?
This is one of the best Ep's in the distorted crasher crust department of the past few years so if you can get a copy, do not hesitate.