Friday 20 January 2023

Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust: LIFE / Judas Krust "Polluted water drainage wreck of culture / Genosida populasi" split Ep, 2017

I still use an Ipod nano to listen to music when I'm out. Yes, the device still works fine and its relatively short storage space allows me to actually choose and select what I really want to listen to carefully instead of being drowned in an overwhelming ocean of available music. Endless listening options make the very notion of choice meaningless as one just jumps from one song to another according to an ever-changing erratic mood that can nowadays change all the time as we cannot stand being frustrated. By limiting myself to a specific number of works - often new ones I wish to pay closer attention to - I like to think that I am more focused and prone to engage with them. Sure, I could just stream the things but, let's face it, I could change my mind after two minutes and just browse or doom scroll indefinitely. On the contrary, when I am at home in my Disclose pajamas (I have already mentioned them but it is just reminder that I am a class act) and am faced with endless possibilities, the mind sometimes gets distracted. It is hard enough not to get lost in this gigantic maze of punk bands and I personally need to draw boundaries and create a delimited field of expertise that I will explore. I suppose infinite choice does not quite work for me and or least not when I want to integrate and absorb a band's music into my repertoire of knowledge. I am like an older robot that needs to compute.     

So the other day, I was riding the underground on my way to work while blasting some Meanwhile on my Ipod nano - I affectionately call it Captain Pod - because in the morning you need softer music in order to wake up progressively. I noticed a teenager with pinkish hair and weird pricy trainers staring at me. I don't enjoy being stared at and I suppose no one does. And she kept staring, looking vacant and chewing a gum. That made me quite uncomfortable and self-conscious. Was she judging me for something? A disgraceful, shocking cowlick? An open fly? A rebellious bogey? Was my State of Fear enamel pin somewhat misplaced? Or worse, had Antisect been cancelled and no one told me because I am not on Insta? And she just got off and stared her way to the nearest exit. Of course, like every teenager, she was wearing airpods, the kind that people never really seem to ever take off (I read that some where actually water proof so that you can keep listening to Billie Eilish, inspiring fitness podcasts or vocoder contests while in the shower) and I wondered what music she was listening to and what was the soundtrack to her staring at the world like a stoned tortoise. Maybe I will soon be an object of mockery on some viral Tiktok video. Let me know please. 

To fight this early uneasiness I looked at the bands I had on my loyal Captain Pod and settled for a life-saving act by which I mean LIFE because if there is one band that I often play to cheer me up, boost my spirit, make me smile like a buffoon or prepare myself to be relentlessly bullied by middle-class customers, well, it has to be LIFE. Yes, LIFE is life, just like in that Opus song. It would have been unprofessional not to include a LIFE record in Live by the Crust, Die bv Crust. This band certainly live by the crust and just like Crux claimed that they would die with their boots on when they 16 (while they stopped wearing any by 1985), LIFE will probably die with they crust pants on. Much more romantic if you ask me.

It would be a little pointless to tell the full story of this legendary Tokyo band that has been going since 1991 and has logically released a lot of records. In a world of status-obsessed wankers, LIFE have always been a breath of fresh air. They are politically-motivated, sincere, positive and stand for everything that is good in the DIY punk scene. Beside, live they play hard like their bums are on fire. Their latest records have been particularly good and I cannot recommend enough their new album Ossification of Corral. I am aware that it would make me look much cooler if I said that I much prefer their first demos, or even better their first rehearsals, and that they lost it as soon as more than 20 people knew about them (I mean, it is in the Elite Punk-rock for Dummies guidebook) but I do believe it is among their best works. This split with Zudas Krust from Indonesia was originally released on tape in 2015 on Doombringer records and the vinyl version came out two years after thanks to a collaboration between the aforementioned Indonesian label, Phobia Records, Crust War, Headnoise Records and Not Enough Records (many great labels that would make a brilliant team at Survivor Series). 

These two songs from LIFE are not a bad start at all if you have never really taken the time to dig into them. They incorporate the essence of proper Japanese crust, the heaviness, the relentless intensity, the distortedness, the angry raw aggression. LIFE just sound unstoppable here. I have left the two songs "Polluted water drainage wreck of culture" and "River of filth" on the same track to emphasize the ferocity. Both have groovy stench filthcrust parts that remind me of Effigy or After the Bombs and give them a genuine epic feel, further enhanced through epic guitar leads, before exploding into their classic brand of punishing blownout Japanese-style crasher scandi peacecrust. It is like SDS and Frigöra teaming up at Gloom's place to write a ruthless record for Distortion Records. The lyrics are decidedly about ecology and nuclear power. The five minutes fly fast and will leave you craving for more (I usually combine this split and the one with Instinct of Survival and I can guarantee you will be ready to rip the head of your smug boss upon arrival). 

Zudas Krust formed as early as 2008 and have been pretty prolific since which make them a leading hardcore punk band in Jakarta. I first became aware of them in the late 00's back when there were a plethora of blogs dealing in d-beat and crust (15 years later and I sometimes feel like the boomer equivalent of punk bloggers) that were a brilliant way to get to know old and contemporary bands from places I was bit clueless about. I remember downloading quite a few punk bands from the very dynamic Indonesian scene (beside them, Kontrasosial and Peace of Annihiliation are two solid bands that immediately spring to mind when I think this genre in this locality). I was favourably impressed with the raw Swedish-flavoured hardcore punk sound of ZK and made a mental note to, one day, get a record from them. Unfortunately, tapes and records from that part of the world can be quite difficult to get in Europe so that a split Ep with both LIFE and ZK was a perfect opportunity.

On that 2014 recording, ZK definitely took their influence from the raw attack of Japanese crusty crasher scandicore bands and closing your eyes, for its the raw production, I could definitely imagine them belonging to the booming 90's scene of the Final Noise Attack and Punk and Destroy gigs. Three punishing songs, two of them with lyrics in their mother language, reminiscent of early Framtid, Collapse Society and Crocodileskink that would definitely delight devotees of the genre. This band should get more attention and I am sure that if they were from Tokyo, Stockholm or New York, they probably would. Both sides of the Ep were mastered at the infamous Noise Room, which accounts for their power, textures and dynamics, although the ZK songs are not as loud and less produced. I don't think this Ep should be too hard to find so make yourself a favour and support the scene. 


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