Wednesday 28 December 2022

Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust: Neverending Mind War "S/t" one-sided Lp, 2020

I will try to keep this one short and sweet in accordance with the bloody racket that this ill-humoured three-piece is bent to unleash on our tragic world. With everyday life sometimes feeling about as exciting as a dad dancing contest or a a mobility scooter race, bands like Neverending Mind War sound strangely fresh and invigorating. They remind you that, if there may be no light at the end of the tunnel, there is always the slight hope of getting battered by shock waves of noisy grinding stenchcore from times to times.

I have already written enthusiastically about Philadelphia's brilliant bursts of crust/mangel/d-beat in the 2010's on three occasions in Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust (for a Pollen Ep, the Mortal War demo and an Alement tape) so there is little point in showering everyone with praises once again. Just know that NMW was (I don't know if that one survived the pandemics) made up of members of the aforementioned Pollen and Mortal War, but also Arseholes, Weald and possibly others that I have not even heard of. It is a common phenomenon but you will notice that, if the number of good band has been solid in the past decade, they were often created by the same limited group of people so that the impression that Philadelphia is overrun with tasteful punks might be misleading. I mean, it's not like their mayor wears crust pants or anything. But you could say that the said bunch of punks was motivated and keen on getting up their arse to play good music, which certainly contrasts with some local scenes that are made up of admirably lazy and morose bastards whose sole purpose seems to get a discount on the entrance fee because "the bands only play short sets so it's not value for money" (true story that).

I first became aware of NMW's existence because of an internet rumour. Words of a new American hardcore punk band replicating the raw sound of Scum-era Napalm Death were circulating among the most prestigious and elite crust circles. Not that the open worship of Scum or the 1986 demo is original in itself, far from it, as there are probably tons of grindcore bands trying to do exactly that, but NMW was said to be significantly different as the band did not sound like a grindcore act and instead focused and built on the 80's UK hardcore aspect of Napalm Death. That immediately caught my attention since I am a sucker for the '86-'87 period of the band. I cannot claim that early grindcore is my forte but to me the pioneering Brummies were originally a thrashing noisy crust hardcore band, an approach that is relevant if you do not take into consideration what they did from 1988 on. If they had not grown to be this legendary and well-respected extreme metal band, I am convinced that ND would mostly be talked about as a proto-grind noisecrust hardcore band in the same breath as Sore Throat or Electro Hippies and would be thought to be a perfect illustration of the early Peaceville/Earache sound. And this vision centred on hardcore instead of metal of the early ND sound is the specific foundation of NMW since they don't go beyond 1988 and stick to the pre-grindification of the band.

But anyway, once I got the confirmation of the name (which sounds like the title of a Prophecy of Doom song or perhaps a nod to the little-known Psychotic Mind Battle?) and understood that the workforce was made up of people from Pollen and Mortal War, the aforementioned approach made sense and I knew I was going for a treat. The two demo tapes (from 2017 and 2018 respectively) were very limited pressings and therefore I was unable to get the physical versions and had to make do with the bandcamp streams. So when Regurgitated Semen Records (I think I will never get used to that name which is really not a bad thing) reissued the two demos on one Lp, I was quick to act and jumped on it like a hungry vegan spotting a generous discount on some overpriced and usually unaffordable soy-made cheese, only without the disappointing outcome. 

The Lp looks gorgeous with a red obi strip, pretty much the equivalent of honey for hardcore nerds. The two demos last about ten minutes in total and fit on one side, which is convenient, although I suppose the whole thing would have fit on an Ep. The first demo is a bit noisier and more blown-out, with more distortion, which makes me think that Zyanose could be an influence too, especially when the Osaka nutters go full speed, but it could also just mean that both bands worked on a similar materials (given the popularity of Japanese noisecrust in the States, I would personally vote for the first option especially with the typical crasher-styled introduction to the first recording, "Nightmare"). The second one is a little clearer but also rawer, but I am splitting hair here. Dare to face a relentless and vicious noisy proto-grind hardcore crust tornado. 

I love the harsh gruff vocals and the old-school stench-oriented mid-paced metallic breaks while the guitar sound is perfect, aggressive, thick but filthy and with just the right amount of distortion for the style, more would not work as well. The earlier era of fast Napalm Death (the From Enslavement to Obliteration '86 demo especially beside the legendary Scum Lp) is clearly the band's obvious basis, but the first punishingly savage steps of Heresy (the '85 demo) and the great Electro Hippies definitely have to be mentioned here and I am also thinking about other lesser-known vintage UK raw fast crust like Mortal Terror or Senile Decay, not an irrelevant comparison either but it has more to do with the creative context of UKHC with bands sharing similarities at the time than a probable influence on NMW's music. As mentioned before, the faster side of the Japanese crasher school is my final ingredient to the recipe but there could be also be elements that I don't recognize because of I'm lacking in crossover hardcore. In any case that should undoubtedly be a success at your colleague's leaving do. 

Given the chosen template, NMW were perfect, I would not change a thing to those recordings.   

Neverending Crust War


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