Thursday 26 January 2023

Live by the Crust, Die by the Crust: Metachrist "Fall Into Bloody Carnage" Lp, 2021

Fan service has become a massive part of our overconsumption of cultural goods. You could say that fan service - by which I mean the tendency to create art intrinsically aimed at satisfying subculture junkies by using predictable and typical discursive elements meant to indulge specific never-ending cravings - plays an essential role in how we use the internet. You could argue that's what it is really for actually. Let's face it, after an alienating at work, during which you've taken as many toilet breaks as possible to avoid achieving your brainless tasks without looking suspiciously lazy or disgustingly sick - and thus undatable - one does not really dream of blasting an experimental jazzcore band or reading about Holocaust literature when getting home. You are looking for something that is sure to alleviate the existential pain and lovingly reflect your tastes, confirm that they are legitimate, that what you love, and by extension yourself, as we often over-identify ourselves, in an almost military fashion, with what we proudly and loyally love, is valid, loveable and worth loving. And not just because it is also loved by many others with a sort of communal drive, but because what you love is expressly created out of love for you and by those who love religiously the same thing and are looking to receive the same love they are giving you. Fuck me, that is a lot of love and I am starting to sound like an unctuous pop singer for senior citizens cruises. The orgy metaphor might have worked better.

Fan service can take all shapes. Niche cosplay done by overweight thirty-something with an excruciating attention to details that make NASA engineers look like teens with attention span deficiencies; doom-scroll elite makeup videos that will make you feel ugly and old the minute you turn off your phone; loquacious nutters who violate the sanctity of basic science claiming like you that the Earth is flat and that pineapples are actually a Jewish vaccine; message boards aimed at providing a space for record-collecting incels to argue harshly about the worth of the hottest new American hardcore bands or absolutely unoriginal just-like-Discharge d-beat bands that just put out a one-sided flexi which will feed your wildest fantasies. I have to say I am not insensitive to fan service and, to be quite honest, am a very easy target. Just form a band with a singer who can vaguely imitate 89' Doom's and you can easily blag a tenner from me and I will take any criticism of this trait of character as a disgraceful affront to my identity. Fan service is like homeopathy. It will neither solve the dull meaninglessness of your mundane existence where the most exotic thing you've done all week is going to the chip shop on a Tuesday night nor will it slow down your own inevitable mental decrepitude but it will comfort you and make you forget about the lifelock and what happens "after the gig". And about that time teenagers made fun of you for no reason (I guess?). Life really.    

But let's cut the crap and serve the fans. Metachrist is the ultimate crust fan service. I first came across the band while randomly losing my time on bandcamp drinking coffee in the harsh light of the early afternoon and bumped into the Final Bloody Master recording. I instantly woke up and proceeded to turn on my sleepy braincells. The influences of Metachrist were very obvious from the start in a heart-warming way. The music made me think, fondly, of someone owning a very similar record collection to mine exhibiting his or her most precious pieces like a kid displaying favourite toys (although in this case I really couldn't be bothered to pretend I care). Granted, the songs sounded a little rushed but I made a mental note to follow the band closely as it had a very promising potential. 

A mere two months later, a new demo was posted, this time entitled Banished to the Dark. Now that was surprising. Punks are not exactly known for their speediness but since it was as good as the first one, I shrugged off this peculiarity and decided that the songs had probably been recorded during the same session. And then a third demo, Conquered and Divided, came out just two months after. I was glad and excited, of course, and felt like a teen who just found a fiver on the street for the third consecutive time in just a week. Very lucky but still pretty uncanny. I started to worry that there could a crust band held in captivity somewhere in a Canadian studio, blackmailed into delivering old-school crust rippers. I cannot fathom what the object of such a treacherous plan could be, perhaps the evil mastermind behind the punknapping threatened them to rip apart all the patches from their jackets or divulge that one of them actually owned recent Mighty Mighty Bosstones records. I called Interpol but they unsurprisingly told me to piss off like that one time I called them because I thought I had lost my vintage SDS shirt. And then it hit me: Metachrist is a one-man solo project.

The band is the creation of an Ottawa punk, self-proclaimed metal-punk geek and part-time spandex model, who is involved with about a dozen such musical projects (yeah, really). The man can play all the instruments, which clearly helps, and set out to create an 80's styled metallic crust punk monster aimed at pleasing the most loyal fans. Needless to say that when a proper vinyl Lp came out in late 2021, I was about as hysterically excited and unbearable to be around as a man who just spotted the yeti. One-man projects are tricky. If you are doing something wrong and are having funny ideas that will eventually prove to be tasteless, no one is going to warn you that you are losing the plot and that playing the flute on a stenchcore song may not be a wise artistic choice. On the contrary, solo projects allow you to be in total control of the songs so that the work totally reflects the vision of the "artist". It is a double-edged sword and now that I think about it there are not many solo crust projects. There are d-beat ones but no old-school crust ones as far I know. 

As I mentioned, Metachrist (which I read as a nod, possibly unintentional, to Nausea's "Cyber God") can be defined as an absolute fan service session  or, as the creator calls it, "crust porn" but I am too much of a prude to think of it that way. The first thing that strikes the listener upon hearing Fall Into Blood Carnage is how epic it sounds. From the typical synth moments to the emphatic victorious thrashing heavy metal transitions and the dark filthy riffs, you are in head-banging heaven and it makes the album a very, very fun listen. In fact, it is the most fun, in a way that is both serious and cheeky, crust recording of the past ten years. The nods, the exaggerated tribute, the hyperbolic referentiality are so obvious, self-conscious, proudly worn that the music turns into a warm and loving, respectful homage to all the greats. Bitter bastards might call it predictable or even corny and sentimental, but for its affirmation of classic UK crust music, I think that it is a beautiful tribute. It is like a crust cover band but with its own songs, if you know what I mean. The other strength of the Lp is that, even if you are not that familiar with the crust canon, its energy, passion and overall punk triumphant catchiness make it easy to relate to and I believe old-school metal fans would dig it as well.

So let's take a look at some songs. The introduction is basically a synth-driven eerie reworking of a tune from The Mob and the first number, one of my favourite, is a wonderful Amebix/Axegrinder type anthem with dark chorus that remind me of Coitus; "No horizon" is a full-on Cimex-ified fast and glorious Onslaught-like metal punk song; "Dominion soaked in blood" has one of the cheesiest, most epic introduction to a crust song I have ever heard, we're almost in heavy metal territory, though the core of the song is delicious late-Antisect-snogging-Amebix worship; "Erected in your death" takes us a back with a bang to the best of the crusty UK crossover sound like English Dogs and Sacrilege. And that is just the first side, I could go on since Fall Into Bloody Carnage is a proper full length album that takes its sweet time to tell the great story of crust. It is like Where's Wally? with the beloved vintage British bands. If you are looking for innovative crust music, Metachrist will not be for you, however if you are in need of a perfect tribute structured around a knowledgeable template, it is tailor-made. In the end Metachrist is metacrust and the unintentional paronomasia is revealing. It is crust music about crust music, it says something about the genre itself, with ease and seamlessly, like a mise en abyme. It is fan service as much as it is genre service in some respect. And it bloody rocks. 

The album was a pain in the arse to get in Europe but it was worth it (my banker would possibly disagree with that). The album is everything you can expect from the genre and you are treated to two posters. It was released on a Florida-based label called Hamask records that deals in old-school metal.

Play loud and enjoy the fun.

Fall Into Crusty Carnage          


1 comment:

  1. Didn't realize how good this was, had seen it on bandcamp but skipped it due to generic looking cover etc, but your review prompted me to suss it out properly. Their cover LP of Conflict's 'Ungovernable Force' LP isn't too shabby either! Thanks for sharing this!