Sunday 31 July 2022

Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust: Άπνοια "Θρίαμβος Του Μίσους" tape, 2018

The training to become a certified crust expert is difficult. One of the unsuspected consequences of Terminal Sound Nuisance is that many young, and arguably worthy, punks were actually inspired by my immense knowledgeabililty and the respectability that it confers one. I expected hordes of fans simply bowing before my greatness, kissing my oversized flashy Antisect signet ring and overall feeling a cultish adoration toward this enterprise. And instead, I see too many kids with a bright future but slowly losing faith upon realizing what it truly takes to become a crust superstar. The training is hard and requires a heavy discipline not quite unlike a Jedi's in terms of dedication, daily humiliation and dodgy-looking greenish geezers. Also it is very reminiscent of the Tough Enough show, only you've got me instead of Stone Cold Steve Austin and you listen to the Hiatus discography instead of slamming cocky bastards on a mat.

During a particularly demanding physical lesson with my crust sensei years ago (I still had flamboyant hair, so that was a while back indeed), he told me sternly after I had just completed a thorough analytical essay called "Visual Bristolness in the Work of Early Osaka Crasher Crusties: a Critical Perspective on Crust Pants Referentiality" that, sometimes, "less is more and more is less". Now, that is exactly what my laziest bandmate would say when they cannot be arsed to do something properly and have to hide that they have no idea or inspiration about that riff they were supposed to bring to practice. I guess many people feel witty with such a mantra as it makes them look like they have a grasp on aesthetics theory and on the first Doom demos. That is pretty much what I said to my sensei. He told me "too impetuous and arrogant you are, you French bastard" and then passed out in a pool of his own vomit as part of the next lesson about finding the right recipe for your special brew.

Άπνοια perfectly embodies the concept of "less is more" when it comes to crust music. Simple, fast and loud and always tasteful 90's style eurocrust with a raw production and a lot of anger to show. No fancy elaborate distortion or fuzz or overwhelming effects on the vocals or epic narration, just direct, honest, pissed crusty hardcore punk. And you need this kind of bands in the crust game and I, for one, always welcome them whole-heartedly when they display that straight-forward crust vibe, not out of intent or a sense of eurocrust intertextuality, but just because it is basically good and a perfectly valid way to do the crust. In that unpretentious way, they remind me of Đornata not because they necessarily sound like them but because they keep things simple. 

The band apparently formed in 2004 but did not record anything before 2014, which is a little odd indeed and one could venture that Άπνοια might have taken the "less is more" philosophy too literally and heartfully waiting ten years to release their first demo. They are from Kozani not so far from North Macedonia - as they now call it - and if you are a reader of the blog you are well aware of how much of a sucker I am for Greek crust (see my study of the genre here) so that Άπνοια were bound to catch my attention. However, and rather paradoxically, Άπνοια are not really a "Greek crust" band. Of course, they are from Greece and playing crust punk, but their music cannot be said to sound like traditional Greek crust stylistically. In fact, if the band did not sing in Greek, I probably would not have been able to discern their origins (clearly continental Europe and not Scandinavia though), but then perhaps my sensei would have. Άπνοια remind me a lot of 90's Polish crust punk in fact, of classic bands like Silna Wola or Sanctus Iuda, also of '93 era Hiatus and even of Tijuana crust punk act Coaccion for the crude directness and aggression (but maybe I'm still a bit drunk from last night). They are not exactly heavy and hyperbolic - although the music is certainly dark, pummeling and angry and the riffs are aptly Scandi-inspired - so I suppose the cavemen crust tag would not fit. In any case, they do not sound at all like Χαοτικό Τέλος (even if they did cover them in their early days), Ναυτία or Ψύχωση. 

Their clear dis-hardcore sonic basis is improved by a brilliant vocal works pointing to the classic crust school with a main vocalist, whose raspy and very angry tone reminds me heavily of Πανδημία's amazing singer (not many can claim to be able to make the listener feel that he or she is being grasped by the proverbial collar and given a proper bollocking in a pure demonstration of anger), and a second one who is more on the grizzli-crust side of things. A good pairing that especially since Greek sounds so seriously furious and desperate when applied to heavy punk music. Θρίαμβος Του Μίσους is a real album clocking at 25 minutes made up of 8 songs of raw eurocrusty discore and one number, "Διχόνοια", that is an absolute gem of classic 90's Greek metal-crust with brooding apocalyptic epics and a great sense of storytelling that sees Άπνοια showing that they also can pull out Χαοτικό Τέλος-inspired crust, the multitalented bastards. This recording would easily deserve to be reissued on vinyl. This is raw and genuine pissed crust punk. 

Θρίαμβος Του Μίσους was released in 2018 and is undeniably the band's strongest - and crustiest - work. Do check out the rest of their discography if you are craving for raw dis hardcore with a bit of thrash punk. It was put out on tape by Extreme Earslaughter the label of Vagelis from the mighty Παροξυσμός and literally tons of other hard-hitting bands (he is actually rumoured to be a robot). If you are not familiar with his work with the label, let's just say that it is magnificent resource for rare obscure old-school Greek crust (finger heart) and extreme metal bands, but also contemporary DIY hardcore punk. The tapes are always very limited, 100 copies, but they are uploaded onto youtube. Do check them out as it is clearly a labour of love. 


Wednesday 20 July 2022

Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust: the Rise of Nova Crustia - Contagium "S/t" Ep, 2012 / Fragment "S/t" demo Ep, 2016/ Kaltbruching Acideath/Zygome "S/t" split Lp, 2019

Amusingly, I almost left my hometown, the city of love, compulsory arrogance and dog shit (not necessarily in that order), for Halifax. In fact, I started Terminal Sound Nuisance a little after I was told that Canada was not exactly dying to welcome yet another useless pretentious twat - another term for French people over there apparently - on its territory. So ultimately I guess humanity, because of the blog's great contribution to its development, should thank the Canadian employers who, politely, told me to piss off. I was unemployed back then and had to survive in a tiny 9m2 square "flat" (in Paris anything bigger than a toilet is called a "flat") so that when I learnt that Canada was looking for young promising workers for positions they were struggling to fill, I immediately jumped on the occasion, bought a brand new, vaguely decent-looking coat and registered to the Destination Canada forum, confident that the recruiters, in awe before my many skills and my jaw-dropping charisma, would hire me on the spot. Little did I know that the country was looking for lorry drivers and plumbers and not in the least interested in my unspectacular profile. Still, I sent a resume and a charming job application letter full of lies to a kindergarten in Halifax, although I had never actually worked with young children and you could even say without it being much of an exaggeration that I don't even enjoy being around them, in the hope that someone would be kind enough, on a whim, to give me the job. 

Fortunately for Nova Scotia kids, they did deign to answer my request and in the end I had to take a job carrying heavy crates of vegetables and working as a cashier in a foodstore. I cannot help wonder though. What if I had actually gone to Halifax? I would have become part of a terrific hardcore punk scene over there, seen and perhaps even played in top crust bands instead of living in a town infested with constipated oi bands and soft middle-class indie-rock. Blame the kindergarten. I did not know that many bands from that area at the time to be honest. Of course I knew System Shit but had no idea they were from Nova Scotia. In fact I don't think I knew of the name "Nova Scotia" before I briefly fancied moving there.

At that point in time I was still already aware of Contagium which I first heard thanks to the great Crust Demos blog, which was - and I hope will be back to being one day - an excellent purveyors of worldwide young crust and d-beat bands, through their 2008 demo. Of course, this first effort was raw (most demos were in the 00's) but you can detect rudimentary versions of songwriting structures, vocal styles and riffs that would come to characterize the "Halifax crust sound". An Ep followed in 2009 and then the Archaic Lp in 2010. Re-exploring these works today I have to say that they hold very well. I remember at the time of their release thinking that they were a little late to the stenchcore revival party - what with Hellshock cosplaying as a Japanese metal-punk band and Stormcrow napping as a stoner metal freight train - not unlike guests arriving late with bags of crisps in their hands while everyone has been stuffing themselves with specially that all night. But I am up for crisps and crust any time of the day so I really don't care much. Contagium played blazing filthy stenchcore with howling anguished reverb-drenched vocals at a time when such vocal effects were not as popular or automatic as they are today (it's what I call "Destino Final Syndrome") and the band was also much faster and pissed than a lot of others falling under the stench umbrella so that the music definitely stood out from the crust swamp. I suppose Archaic might sound a little repetitive in retrospect and that Contagium maybe worked better with the Ep format but I am not here to split hair. Their strongest recording, by far, was the 2012 Ep released on Doomed To Extinction.

Recorded in 2011 for their Terminal Filth Stenchtour (I know, right?) and originally released as a limited tape, this (second) eponymous Ep is a jewel in the crust crown. The recipe is pretty similar only the sound is heavier and more aggressive, the hooks more viciously effective and the dual vocal teamwork more focused, expressive and therefore more threateningly ferocious. You could say that it is a significant upgrade upon their already strong stenchcore foundations defined by mean and groovy mid-paced metallic bits with mosh-inducing filthy riffs and thunderously fast crusty hardcore thrash with two nutters howling screams of desperate anger. Imagine a modern more powerful blend of Terminal Filth Stenchcore and Rock'n'roll Conformity, the dirty obnoxious metallic punk catchiness of the former enlightening the fast-thrash-meets-mid-paced-stench-crust vibe of the latter, add some vintage Axegrinder and Misery, some Heresy and Napalm Death rabid madness and put it in a stenchcore revival oven until it rots completely. Then place the stew in the middle of a wasteland and wait for crows to eat and regurgitate it. This Ep is the sound of those crows attacking posh wankers on the streets after the meal. Or something. As usual the artwork is fabulous and it was Adam, from the band, who was in charge of making Contagium look good. The cover of this Ep is probably my favourite work of his as it is so grim-looking. It would be Contagium's last offering but as you must expect by now, it was certainly not the last breath of Halifax crust.

I have never been there so I was never able to study Halifax punks in their natural habitat and identify what each groups of local punks exactly did and with whom, in spite of my reputation of world-acclaimed punk anthropologist (I did get twelve likes on Facebook once, what a day). However discogs tells me that these people involved in Contagium, Fragment and Zygome have been in dozens of other bands in the 2010's alone. Just to give you an idea of the incestuousness of the Halifax scene, guitar player Adam and drummer Ben also played in Abject Pax together, the latter actually also playing in Fragment - with Cody (they also did Life Chain together) who was involved with Adam in Concrete Asylum, among many others, and drummer Mark who also played in Carcass Toss, with Cody, and Outcry, with Rosie who also played in Zygome and Abject Pax, as mentioned above with Ben and Adam - and Zygome. I could try to draw a genealogical tree of the Halifax punk scene, it would be an arduous, tedious, task but one of such I find quite fascinating. It would probably show that although there have been dozens of solid punk bands in the past ten year over there, they were done by the same ten people. But isn't it the case almost everywhere else? I have been wondering whether some of these people actually lived in the studio, or even if some of them had not been locked in and would not be allowed to leave until they did 100 bands or something. 

Fragment is the next Halifax band we are dealing with in this superb writeup that I am confident will finally get me a work visa in Canada if the minister of Canadian Heritage reads it. Come on Pablo, don't be a dick. The band has Ben, formerly in Contagium; Cody, who seems to play or have played in more bands than I have had showers in the 00's (I know, I know, but those were crazy times); Steven from Outcry and Shitpissers (this is a definite yes for me) and Mark who does not seem to play in any other bands, which is very suspicious indeed. Fragment is a band I immediately took a great liking to even though the genre they embraced (distorted crasher cavecore punk?) has become a popular hobby for (too) many bands in the 2010's. How many average distorted d-beat raw punk projects does the world really need? This is a bit of a harsh statement especially since I would delighted to have even just one d-beat band in Paris. Anyway Fragment are brilliant at what they do, possibly one of the best distorted bands right now and this is their 2016 demo, originally released on tape under the name Hear Nothing (no idea where they got that from... any idea?). I generally don't see the point of reissuing contemporary demo tapes on vinyl but this was objectively such a potent and skillful hammering that the solid British label Imminent Destruction rightly took on the job and made the demo available to men, women, children and non-binary persons.

With an insert displaying "Distort Terror" and the Gloom reference "Devastating Noise Attack" the seasoned listener is aware that he or she will be subjected to an intense, relentless and loud assault on the sense commonly known as a wall of noise. The vinyl is eight minute long and there is no pause between songs which reinforces the impression of fierce sonic mercilessness. The obligatory ingredients are perfectly used: there are mean deafening feedbacks, textured distortion, hard-hitting manic crasher drumming with those typical rolls and howling vocals (with the traditional Halifax reverb, they seem to really love that there). Pretty much the Gloom and D-Clone school of thoughts but I would argue that the aggressive riffs in Fragment could be described as a distorted take on classic 90's käng. Beside, what makes the band stand out are the mean thrashing stenchy mid-paced moments - not quite unlike Contagium's really - that allow the music to breath and the listener to headbang while keeping that fuzzy distorted texture. Basically what I mean is that Fragment actually write songs with hooks and do not make the mistake to rely only on pedal effects and Japanese crust referentiality (although you do need that too if you want to do things properly in this exercise in style). In the end, that is what they excel at (they remind me of the superlative late D-Clone in that respect) and this perfect demo exemplifies this capacity. The band will keep noizing things up with a brilliant album, In the Dust, the following year that went on delivering the crasher goods, this time with an additional narrative style allowed by the Lp format (the one reservation I have is that the vocals are too low in the mix). Two Ep's followed and the most recent one Mind Convulsion shows Fragment going even noisier and rawer, to the point of becoming some sort of primitive harsh noizecrust unit that claims "Fuckin Noise Rich Crusties Trendy Punk Nerds Fuck Off!! We Love Damaging Noise!!!", a clear reference to the Japanese school. As Hard Skin would say: they ain't messing around. I just hope they're not talking about me.

The last Halifax band of this post is probably my favourite of the three. In fact they are my favourite. Zygome. Now when I first heard of a band called Zygome from Halifax a couple of years ago, I spontaneously rose from my comfy armchair, walked out of my luxury office located at the top of the Terminal Sound Nuisance Tower, took a can of lager out of the diamond-studded fridge, went to the rooftop, opened the can and looked up to the sky pensively, beaming with anticipation on the inside. Zygome are a three-piece made up of Adam (from Contagium and many as we have seen), Ben (from Contagium and Fragment, the writeup is a sort of tribute to his talent) and Rosie (from Outcry and Abject Pax among others). The name can rightly be said to be, obviously, the equivalent of a bird whistle for crusties. Just like dogs can hear ultrasound, crust maniacs rose their ears when the name Zygome traveled through the air. It's not an actual word mind you although the term "zigoma" does exist (it's the bony arch of the cheek) but I guess they just insisted on leaving the last alphabetical spot to Zygote out of respect even if they sound nothing like them. Their sword logo and their self-description as a "crusher crust" band are far more significant items.

They released a self-titled four-song demo in 2018, originally as a digital only thing (if I remember correctly) but it was much too good not to be released physically, on tape on the very good label Runstate Tapes from Montreal (responsible for Rat Cage, Apärä or Inepsy releases among other strong hardcore punk works) and on vinyl on Black Against Night Records, a label located in Australia run by a former member of the Skopje-based Born For Slaughter and specialized in crust and d-beat. Although an easy analysis, I would argue that Zygome did build on the Contagium legacy and songwriting tricks (fast crusty thrash bits with filthy mid-tempo moments, reverb on the howling vocals and so on) but they added tasteful old-school crust atmospherics (synth and long eerie intros for instance) and vocal works in order to convey a more articulate sense of storytelling and narratity to their filthy stenchcrust sound. More Axegrinder, Amebix and '87 Antisect elements to the '86-'88-Deviated-Instinct-of-Survival if you will. Needless to say I was avidly watching the internet for the followup record and it took shape as a split Lp with Kaltbruching Acideath in 2019 on Doomed to Extinction.

To put it bluntly, this album might be the best crust Lp of the decade although such a claim is contingent on your personal tastes in the many shades of crust. There is a consensus among the Council of Crust Elders that few albums could match that one but the argument that Swordwielder's System Overlord, the Instinct of Survival/Asocial Terror Fabrication, Disturd's Dark or Χαοτικό Τέλος' Υπόσχεση are also the cream of the crust crop is sound indeed. Who cares about rankings anyway? Cooperation not competition and all that. On their side of the split, Zygome unleash on the - intentionally - unwashed 14 minutes of pure old-school crust gold as the band further refined their crafty recipe. The first song "The other" opens with gloomy Amebix-like arpeggios and a creepy synth melody which I am a massive sucker for. There is nothing better than opening your crust record with synth as it immediate puts the listener in the adequate mood and announces that an epic apocalyptic story is going to unfold and that is precisely what you are here for. Following that lesson in crust preliminaries, the song explodes into a perfect exercise in mean thrashing stenchcore with appropriately anguished shouts. 

The next one is a short, fast and loud number, first reminiscent of vintage early Napalm Death and then in the second part of the song of Civilised Society? thanks to some great tuneful female vocals over some heavy mid-paced crust punk. And all of that in one minute. The next one, "A thousand sun (rise in reverse)" is absolute Amebixian epics with the typical dark pagan tribal beats and the classic Baron-like flow and accentuation. It is a beautifully dark and morose song. This song is tied to the following one, "Overcome with pain", with a short interlude that is daring to say the least as it is exactly the same as the opening to Deviated Instinct's "Possession" on Terminal Filth Stenchcore. Of course, if you have never heard this foundational work, you will just think that the idea to include some quite beautiful Anglican hymn (I'm guessing) works well just before a song about depression and alienation. And on that level, it does work well and makes sense strictly in term os the story-told. On a referential level, it is a bold move of referentiality that will have stenchcore lovers nod in unison and it also works and makes sense on that intertextual, storytelling level. As for the song itself it can be seen as a wicked reinterpretation of a song that could have been lifted from Rock'n'Roll Conformity, thrashing stench metal punk with something of a mean Anihilated touch. 

Finally their recording comes to an end with "Hammer of war", an apocalyptic crust scorcher that is not unlike '05 Hellshock. What makes the song so brilliant is its conclusion - that is also the conclusion to the side and the whole story - with the shouted repetition of "Hammer of war" over a filthy metallic crust riff, a bit like in late Antisect, until the voices and the music fade out into the void. Crusher stench rules.

On the other side of this split Lp the mighty Kaltbruching Acideath from Japan await. Let's tackle the elephant in the room straight away: it's a bit of a mouthful, an albatross of a name even, one I am still struggling to spell properly, which is somewhat humiliating since I was once a spelling bee champion - well it was more of a pub quizz but still. The name derives from a 12'' by a Canadian dark techno project called Huren (the work of one David Foster) and entitled Kaltbrüchig Acideath. Now I am utterly unknowledgeable about electronic music, I have never enjoyed it at all although I have been told it is a very diverse and fascinating world - and I am sure it is. The only tiny area of techno music I am vaguely aware of is the Exit Hippies/Death Dust Extractor/Abraham Cross harsh techno-noize turn and only out of curiosity and because of the ties to the Japanese crust scene. But anyway, David Foster, who lives in Berlin of course, is apparently a bit of an underground legend because of his participation in cult sonic projects from the early 90's on and of his role in the creation of the New York-based Zhark label, described in an article as a "High end low fi Motörhead driven squatter techno label". As I understand it the guy is a techno punk with links to the squatters movement who did dark and noisy challenging music. Of course, there is no strict sonic similarity between Kaltbruching Acideath and Kaltbrüchig Acideath. However, as unlikely as it sounds and that's where things get interesting, Foster definitely knows his shit when it comes to DIY Japanese crust. For example, a picture on his Discogs page shows a montage of him with the cover of the Natural Crust and Punk Force Noise Making compilation Ep from 1996 (it had Mental Disease, Order and Mindsuck and was reviewed on this elite punk blog here) with the caption "The system you hate is the system you support" which is a classic Crude SS slogan and there is a stenchcore-looking drawing in the background that I cannot quite identify (it's only a detail of it). On his Instagram page, there is another montage this time including a Framtid visual (as well as a picture of himself with a tired Lemmy). How unlikely is that? There must be a link that I am missing between the Japanese crasher noize crust scene and David Foster. Enlighten me please. 

Now that was a long digression. KA formed in the early 2010's and self-released two demos but I only heard about them through their first Ep Aural Carnage (a determined nod to Sore Throat's Aural Butchery since the word "carnage" is pasted over the word "butchery" on the cover) released on Hardcore Survives in 2017 and displaying a lovely Electro Hippies tribute on the cover in terms of visuals and layout. So you already know you are on holy ground. Musically KA work on a side of old-school grindy crust that is seldom explored with strong influences from the fabulous Prophecy of Doom (especially), early Napalm Death and early Bolt Thrower. Metallic, grinding and even death-metal-ish at times but keeping a dirty genuine noizecrust vibe. Their next recording saw the Tokyo-based lot improved on the aforementioned cavemen metal crust formula with a heavier, raw organic sound to die for - it sounds like you can almost smell it - and two hyperbolic Sore Throat-styled crustier-than-thou numbers for good measure. It is absolutely brilliant and I was lucky enough to see them live in 2018 and they completely destroyed it. Undeniably one of the best Japanese crust bands right now. My only reservation is the lengthy introduction that is basically the muffled sound of a Tokyo street (I presume) and does not really bring anything meaningful to the actual crust story. But it is only a minor criticism as KA are the real deal.

Revenge Records described KA as "grinding stench metal crust", Zygome as "anarcho stench crust", both bands as "total horrendous stench metal crust" and the album as a "mega terminal filth wimpcore split" and I guess that crust bingo sums it up nicely. One of the strongest crust records of the decade, easily, and one that is bound to become canonical at some point (you can be sure I will lobby for that). It was released on the ever reliable and solid Doomed To Extinction who, in merely two years, basically destroyed the crust game with the Instinct of Survival/Asocial Terror Fabrication split Lp, the IOS/Fatum split tape and this Kaltbruching Acideath/Zygome Lp. The cover of the split was drawn by Adam and epitomized what crust art is all about: heads on spike, an army of zombified punx, celtic frames, torn war banners... And an Easter egg: in this case the leader of the crust legion is wearing a ribbon at that says "crust" in the same lettering as the one displayed by Mid Deviated Instinct on the back of a jacket "back-in-the-day" and immortalised on the picture below.

On a much more serious note, this modest article is dedicated to Rosie, who was involved in Zygome, Outcry and other worthy bands and passed away in 2020. Of course, I never met her but still, the death of a committed punk, especially at such a young age, is always tragic and sad and even though I mostly rant and ramble about music on this blog in order to provide (hopefully) enjoyable reads, it is also important to commemorate our dead and not forget. 

Zygome / Kaltbruching Acideath


Saturday 2 July 2022

Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust: Black Terror "Born Again" tape, 2014

If one was to conceptualize the various creative artistic dynamics as well as the conceptual theory underlining the d-beat genre as praxis and philosophy, one could say that the D is endlessly self-sufficient. One cannot bring anything truly new to d-beat nowadays, as it is in the constant reworking of the original material and simple formula and in the intensity of the delivery (amount of distortion, vocal flow, rawness and so on) that a solid d-beat performance must emerge. However, what can be achieved through Discharge love is more difficult and rarer to do with other punk bands which has a lot to do with the systematicness of Discharge. Still, strict Doom cosplay has been a rather consistent practice for almost three decades, although the number of candidates is limited when compared to Discharge or even Disclose, and more particular instances like SDS who passionately emulated Antisect (and Disturd emulating the emulators in turn) do show that bands can conceive indeed an utterly consuming love for a classic band. And if anything, Amebix can be said to be an absolute classic, therefore prone to be carefully imitated. 

Enter Black Terror from Singapore, an obscure band from the mid-10's bent on worshipping Amebix with all their heart and whatever musicianship they were able to muster in order to reach that noble goal. Of course, Amebix has had a massive influence on so many bands that a careless reader could be inclined to think that Black Terror band were not in any way unique or different as hundreds of Amebix-inspired bands can be listed, even renowned bands like Misery or Axegrinder for example. And that careless reader, in spite of such insolence that would normally get him or her dismissed from class, is not wrong. But here we are not just talking of an Amebix influence or inspiration, we are dealing with an Amebix impression. Even in this very restricted filed, BT have not been the only ones. In the early 00's Zoe from Osaka walked the same walk with even greater determination (see my magnificent piece about The Last Axe Beat Lp) by merging both Amebix and post-Amebix (the legacy of Zygote) in an act of synthesis, early Acrostix very much worked in a synth-driven Amebixian crust as well while the project Axeman was an act of Amebix worship coming from the underground metal world rather than the punk scene. BT must be seen in a similar light. But to a certain extent only, not because their Amebix reenactment is less accurate or powerful than Acrostix or Zoe's, but because on Born Again it appears to be a part-time activity. I know.

BT were an obscure band and I cannot find much information about them or the members, which is not so common in the age of hegemonic availability. They are a bit mysterious if you like. To be fair, the name "Black terror" does not exactly help on that level and I will leave to your imagination what typing "black terror singapore" in the Google or Youtube search bars result in. In fact, the name may be considered as a rather bad idea, not the worst possible idea - great bands going for much worse names are easy to come by - but probably too metal-sounding for their own good. Discogs tells me that there are at least three other bands called Black Terror. Two are unsurprisingly black-metal bands, one from Peru armed with corpse paint, an inverted cross and a song entitled "Sodomy and extermination" which sounds a little extreme and an other from Czech with a shite undecipherable logo and a demo called Let's Annihilate the Whole World, Fucker!. Needless to say I'd rather have a drink with the second one. Things get stranger name-wise with the London-based indie rock band called Fifty Tons of Black Terror (?) and the hip-hop singer Sgt Black Terror a character that sounds more like a 90's wrestler than a street gangster. So you see, the task was herculean. 

But let's get back to the music. As I mentioned, BT can be said to be working half-time at the Amebix factory. And they do work hard. The brilliant rocking, groovy but raw and organic production gives the recording a genuine old-school feel that fits the Amebix style perfectly. "Prince of lies" freely borrows riffs and lyrics from "Largactyl", "Last knight" opens with a piece of delicate singing (and kinda shamelessly tuneless although I appreciate the effort) just like on "Sunshine ward", "Born again" starts with typical Monolith-ish arpeggios and has a darkest heavy "Coming home" meets "Beyond the sun" vibe and of course, it feels redundant and almost silly to have to point it out, there is a cover of "ICBM". If Born Again was only made up of those four songs, it would be the ultimate performance of Amebixness. But there are five other songs on the tape that sound noticeably different - no ska though. Heaviness is still of the essence but the influences vary. On the whole there is a strong Celtic Frost influence running through them, especially in the vocals at times, but the song "Too little much too late" is clearly a loving nod to Inepsy and the dirty old-school crust feel of "The end" and "Your world" strongly reminds me of the great Coitus (who were themselves a blend of Celtic Frost, crust-era Antisect and punk-as-fuck 90's squats so it does make sense). 

There is a certain sense of disparateness at times, especially when the "motörcrust" influence becomes too strong (fortunately it does not happen often), but the tape is definitely good in terms of songwriting, sound (reminiscent of 90's crust) and metal-punk energy. The fact that it is not more widely known is quite astonishing but it may have to do with their country of origin and the difficulty to widely distribute recordings from bands located in South-East Asia despite very active and qualitative labels from this part of the world. Who knows, maybe BT are considered as the classic Singaporean crust band over there? I must confess I am quite unknowledgeable about that scene although I greatly enjoy cracking bands like Blinded Humanity (who appeared on the great Singapore Punk Holocaust compilation cd) or Lifelock and hopefully I will be able to write at length about such bands in the future before I am old, lonely, embittered and deaf. Born Again was released on Azadghei records, a reliable Singapore-based label that has released some solid materials from Blinded Humanity, General Enemy or Zudas Krust. 

The visual is a little underwhelming and a more striking cover, or just a crustier one maybe, would have probably encouraged more people to give it a try and realize BT are really good at what they do, that unique raw and rocking blend of orthodox Amebix love, Frost and Coitus. And I give them credit for crediting Gustave Doré. I'm sure he'd have enjoyed that.