Tuesday 31 January 2023

Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust: ExtinctExist "Cursed Earth" Lp, 2016

I don't know if you have noticed but the end is nigh. The last summer in Paris was excruciatingly hot and, as we don't love anything quite as much as endlessly complain, you can imagine that the whole outraged nation engaged in a whining marathon with some people being sincerely scandalized that climate change would affect a people as civilised and clever as us. So while temperatures escalated deliriously, which was not that pleasant indeed as I had to shower a bit, we had the perfect excuse for some intense complaining sessions and generally acting like insufferable bastards which even the most ardent dullards took part in. You have to make the most of every situations, don't you? 

I am not too bad with heat if I'm being honest. Of course, I insist on complaining as much as humanly possible but I can deal with intense heat. Last year was harsh though as the sun even melted the constellations of dog turds that grace every Parisian streets and you must know that those are particularly tough shits. Who said romance was dead? Usually the coming of summer always signals the arrival of large amounts of blokeish wankers on the streets, too keen on exhibiting chest hair and fond of cat whistling and honking, the sort of elite twats who seem to think that excessive hair gel and pungent perfume are somewhat going to get them laid. Last year though, there were fewer of them because the heat made behaving like an obnoxious pig much harder, which was something of a relief for the local skirt-wearing population and for common decency altogether. So you see, the end of the world also has a good side to it. Besides, who really needs trees? Sure, they come handy when you really need a wee and your bandmates won't stop the van because you, supposedly, should not have drunk all those beers, especially since we are still four hours away from the venue. But they make really convincing plastic ones these days.

But let's get a little serious here because today we are dealing with a very serious band indeed: ExtinctExist. I am a pretty serious fellow myself and I agree that the self-destructive Anthropocene, fueled by capitalism, predatory postcolonial economic strategies, the overproduction of goods doomed to obsolescence and first-world brainless overconsumption is probably not an ideal situation as it might take everyone and everything along in its collapse but not before we slowly choked on our own pollution. But hey, we still have Netflix and social media, which, I'd like to remind you, still are the best way to determine your position on the sexual marketplace and loathe people who have dismal profile and blurry pictures of disturbingly ugly children. So that's still something. But I am happy that there are bands like ExtinctExist who see music (and solid hardcore punk music in this case) as a medium to talk about crucial ecological issues in creative ways. It is still a punk-rock record and not a political rally so it's not like you are going to join the struggle after the last song (especially since it ends on a very gloomy atmospheric note) but still, as thoroughly enjoyable as I find some of the metatextual, overly referential, metacrust bands, I also love politically motivated crust bands and I think both are necessary for a healthy scene and my own well-being (I had to sell my crystal collection a long time ago).  

So what do we have here? EE are from Melbourne and if you have been following what has been going on in this part of the world during the past decade, you'll know there have been a lot of good bands there like Enzyme, Lai/Jalang, Execution, Sistema En Decadencia, Scab Eater and so on. The members of EE are not exactly newcomers to "da punk scene" as Danish singer Jeppe used to play in Nuclear Death Terror and the magnificent Uro; drummer Tim also plays in Jalang and used to be part of neocrust act Schifosi (they were one of the good ones to be fair); bass player Erle was involved in bands I have no clue about and guitar player Ramez purveyed riffs in the oft overlooked Drunkard (not the best name arguably). And this wealth of experience does shine through as Cursed Earth is a really tight album with a massive sound. There is no room for sloppiness. It is not overproduced but it is clear that the band wanted the work to be relentlessly heavy and dark (I love how punishing the drums sound). 

Yeah, someone sat on my copy

EE play crust metal but cannot be said to fall entirely under the stenchcore umbrella as you won't find the strict typical stench mimics here (let's say if EE were a person you would fit half of the body under said umbrella). Instead you are offered a beefy blend of furious scandicrust and thrashy death metal. Conceptually, they are not quite unlike Agnosy actually when I think of it, metal crust but not stenchcore. At their dis-crustiest, the band definitely brings to mind Nuclear Death Terror as well as that brand of mid-00's American crustcore, like a darker, more metallic version of Another Oppressive System or Consume and epic European bands like Cop On Fire. When they go metal, in addition to vintage mean death-metal, I can hear distinct nods to old-school crust acts like Hellshock and Extinction of Mankind, which all in all is more than enough to get a good grade on my homemade crust detector. This Lp stands as one of the most convincing examples of anarcho scandi metal-crust around. 

Cursed Earth is an album that packs a serious punch and grows on you. I am not always a sucker for this kind of production in my crust (too clean at times) but it works well here and I enjoy the different changes of pace, influences and moods displayed by the band which allow them to tell a good story (EE clearly wants to convey a sense of storytelling with this album). This Lp has a lot of power and an epic quality, just listen to how "Scourge Amazonia" kicks in and tell me you don't want to go feral, paint your face green and tie yourself to a tree in an endangered rain forrest (pack some mosquito spray if you are actually going to do that). The lyrics deal with Fukushima, the Plague, the pagan relation to nature and life, the ecological damage that meat-eating implies for Amazonia and other such joyful topics. The lyrics are well-written and, if they all deal with natural abuse, rather diverse. Each song (almost poems at times) comes with a text in prose illustrating the issue at stake in a literary fashion which is a good idea and both formats do complement each other. The explanatory text to "Scourge Amazonie" tells of a fancy Parisian restaurant where toffs have pricy steaks which made me giggle a bit. 

The Lp comes with a thick booklet, the old-school way, and overall the finely crafted artwork reflects what the band is about. The Lp was recorded in 2014 but only came out in 2016 on the always reliable Ruin Nation Records. You can still find this one so you know what to do and support the scene.

Cursed Existence  

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