Saturday 27 April 2024

An adventure in split Ep's! I have no gun but I can split: D-CLONE / NERVESKADE "Obscene noize violence" split Ep, 2011

I suppose playing the song "Mental disorder" to that epically annoying colleague constantly claiming that he loves to listen "to a bit of everything" - which always means "a lot of nothing" - and seeing his reaction of utter disbelief and barely concealed disgust could be the funniest thing to do with this Ep. Neither surprising nor curious at all: how could someone considering that listening to Marilyn Manson once in high-school is similar to living and breathing for the almighty D possibly take listening to D-Clone? If anything the band is a wanker remover. The most curious thing about this very fine split Ep is that D-Clone were never a genuine d-beat clone. The choice of this name could be seen as slightly treacherous at the beginning of the band's run in the mid 00's (they formed in 2004). After all, what could you possibly expect from a band called D-Clone beside precisely a dis-clone? 

They first came to my attention in the late 00's, likely when the Drop a Noise Bomb Ep came out, but I remember being unconvinced with the name and did not properly listen to them. If I wholeheartedly welcome actual tasteful dis-clones nowadays - and yes that includes Disclone - I did not have as much time for that at that point, what with mourning the inevitable downfall of the stenchcore revival (Stormcrow's split with Laudanum was the nail in the coffin). So as usual when it came to the really noizy Japanese stuff, I did not get it right away and had to go back to it several times, like an aural masochist, to understand what the hell was happening. Strangely, it proved to be easier to understand Death Dust Extractor than D-Clone. It probably has something to do with the former's perfect crust pants. But once I managed to really immerse myself into the Nagoya power trio's art of noize, I was massively impressed and significantly deafer.

If they were never a one-trick d-beat clone, the band always and proudly held Disclose in high esteem, especially for Kawakami's sense of distortedness, which they built on and arguably enhanced, and for his singing style (in terms of scansion and tone). They clearly relied on elements of d-beat but they were never as strict, especially as they progressed. On that level, they are a little like Contrast Attitude, influenced by orthodox d-beat and its template and loving the tradition of distortion, but not to be describe as Discharge mimicking lunatics like Final Bloodbath or, of course, Disclose. D-Clone was a band that grew angrier, wilder and more intense with each release, to such an extent that their only album Creation and Destroy can be considered as one of the most brutal and noisiest hardcore Lp's of the 2010's. It is at the limit of sounding too extreme, too relentless and it leaves one exhausted but happy (or traumatized). It is no coincidence that the aforementioned Lp was the last thing they recorded: where could have they gone from there without falling into noisecore? An absolutely fascinating and almost frightening work.

D-Clone's timing was perfect. When they really kicked out in 2007, the punk world was just ready for them as a wave of noize-loving bands was starting to rise then and, if it would be far-fetched to assert that the band initiated it, they were certainly initiators and they have come to be closely associated with the so-called "noisepunk" trend (the term is vague and somehow inaccurate but we'll get back to it) that saw bands working on the classic distorted sound of Bristol and Kyushu as well as Japanese crasher hardcore and d-beat. A lot of those bands sounded well different but they all had a highly distorted guitar sound and aggressive hardcore style to offer. Enjoy D-beat and Noise as D-Clone rightly said. It is not easy to formulate a relevant retrospective critique about that short but prolific burst of the late 00's and early 10's and define and identify its best moments. D-Clone undeniably were but there are many bands to examine here so that will be for some other time. Still, let's all agree that The Wankys were the real - not to mention the self-proclaimed - noisepunk heroes.

But what makes D-Clone so compelling then? I would argue that it is the dementia they managed to build through their hectic and intense songwriting and their articulate art of deafening distortion. D-Clone sound like a storm of noise, a relentless shower of hardcore music. The introduction "Mental disorder" is masterful in that respect. Sure, for your Bruce Springsteen loving dad, it is just a weirdo screaming like he is totally mental over some chaotic fuzz but the way the way the music speeds up and how the changes in guitar distortion and textures goes along the changes of vocal tones is brilliant and really confers a sense of impending madness. The music often stops without warning, sharply, leaving you on edge and gets back to the intense bollocking right after, conveys powerfully the feel of an angry capricious storm. The two songs leave the listener in a state of shock, in awe. D-Clone were quite versatile and narrative too, there is even an almost emocore-like transition in there to give you the hope that the torture could be over and overall the songwriting does tell a proper story with many moments - albeit one of dementia through noise overdose. On this recording, the Kyushu-by-way-of-Bristol is pretty strong and I can hear a lot of Confuse and Chaos UK in some of the bass lines and pogoable tunes. Classic crasher crust legends like Gloom and Collapse Society and distortion-driven Discharge-love stand as obvious sources of inspiration but they somehow manage to crank up the insanity through a fantastic frenetic drummer able to change paces and electrify the music through typical crasher-style drum rolls. Just great stuff from one of the best hardcore bands of the 2010's. 

D-Clone are a difficult act to follow. I remember the painful experience of having to recite a poem that we were supposed to memorize at school when I was 8 before the whole class. I roughly knew the text but had to go just after the best pupil and despised teacher's pet, who of course absolutely killed it, leaving me with a lot of pressure. I honourably failed but somehow managed to shift the blame from my own laziness to the perfect student. Nerveskade were a good solid band though and if they don't quite match their tag team partners' intensity, they still stood as one of the most convincing noisepunk bands of the 2010's with a solid discography and an early start. The Obscene Noize Violence Ep was actually released for their 2011 Japanese tour with D-Clone during which they got to share the stage with average bands like Reality Crisis, Axewield, Framtid or Death Dust Extractor. There is actually a tour poster with all the different flyers included with the Ep which is a lovely thought to make you feel well jealous.

Nerveskade crashed into the scene in the late 00's and by that time you could sense that something was up by the way everyone suddenly became fan of Disorder and Chaos UK. The term "noisepunk" appeared around that time, not just to talk about the new generation but also to refer to the classic distortion-loving 80's bands, something of a retroactive move, the relevance of which is relative. It is both convenient and somehow reductive (there were a lot of different takes on noize) and it followed a terminological route that is not unlike the UK82 coinage that rose a couple of years earlier. For once France was not late to the distortion party with bands like Saint-Etienne's State Poison (reviewed here in 2015) and Bordeaux' Warning//Warning (both towns being natural reserves for punk nerds), and unsurprisingly quite a few bands from the US of A like Perdition, Effluxus or Nomad, Australia's Nuclear Sex Addict, England's Wankys, Sweden's Giftgasattack and Sex Dwarf or Finland's Kylmä Sota (let's ignore Japan, they have their own dynamics). As mentioned, those bands did not necessarily sound alike but they had the love of distortion in common, which I think was contextual and part of a new global trend. Ironically, the noize revival happened at the same time as the postpunk one and one day we'll try to make sense of all of it.

Arguably Nerveskade's situation might be seen as a little different since they came from Portland and the style had been worked on earlier locally for a while through bands like the mighty Atrocious Madness and of course Lebenden Toten, who could rightly be seen as the most significant and obvious modern band that would influence this noize wave. For what it's worth, Lebeden Toten was to "noisepunk" what Hellshock was to "stenchcore" a few years prior: a spark. Bloody Portland at it again. So Nerveskade were pretty close to the source, and, if one must highlight that they did not sound like Lebenden Toten, there shared enough sonic elements (the degree of intentionality is irrelevant) to link them both. 

It was a real punk band with spikes, studs and all and I would say British acts like the immense Chaos UK and Disorder, perhaps more than their Japanese heirs (beside Swankys), were Nerveskade's major influences. I would be tempted to throw some post-Bristol bands like Dirge (especially) as well as Insurrection and some Ad'Nauseam's demos (wild guesses here as the youtube supermarket had not really opened when the band started). The Ep format fits the band perfectly, they play quite a bit faster than the aforementioned cider-drinking bands with the classic binary hardcore beat and the gratuitous snotty punk screams just to make sure you get the gist. Nerveskade could appeal to the pogopunk crowd, the DIStortion-loving crowd and the nerd crowd made up of people arguing with one another about Japanese flexis that no one can afford. A good band and this recording is probably my favourite of theirs, it goes nicely with D-Clone's style as they had a different kind of energy. Some members were also playing in Bi-Marks at that point and would end up in Frenzy or Rubble, but guitar player Jake would also do time in the Gloom-worshiping Zatsuon and the solid d-beat band Aspects of War. 

This lovely little Ep was released in 2011 on Tokyo's Hardcore Survives. Time flies.

Obscene Noize Violence


Saturday 20 April 2024

An adventure in split Ep's! I have no gun but I can spit: CONSTANT STATE OF TERROR / DEPORTATION "Slave to wealth / S/t" split Ep, 2010

Life on Earth is full of mystery. It seems that some things just cannot be explained rationally. Without even looking at the not so distant past when ignorance ruled mightily and people believed that the plague was a punishment from a bearded wanker who lived among the clouds or that the world would collapse on January 1st, 2000 at midnight because of a bug, some stuff do remain inscrutable, deeply enigmatic and baffle even the most clever minds of our time like mine. Who took a piss on my mate Paul's car on New Year's Eve? Who stole my shark-shaped tea infuser at work (I suspect "mean Karen" from accounts)? Why aren't Constant State of Terror revered and whispered about with awe among us lovers of old-school metallic crust punk? Unexplainable mysteries indeed. It must have something to do with Reptilians.  

This is a delicious little split Ep that I bought for Constant State of Terror (who will be referred to as CSOT from now on because I can't be arsed), a band that I have always held in high esteem. They belong to that kind of bands that I have been following since their inception in the mid 00's. I remember seeing them in 2007 and being impressed with the performance and the music. I am not sure why they have never been more popular but I reckon the name might have played a role. It's certainly a mouthful (just imagine a Frenchman pronounce it) and somehow conjures up the idea of an uninspired lazy crust band although I do like the political idea behind the moniker. But what do I know, I play in a band called Turquoise so it's not like I can lecture anyone in terms of paronomasia. Another aspect could also be that their old-school UK style was not as popular when they were the most active in the late 00's/early 10's but nowadays quite a few bands have been toying with this vibe to some acclaim (like State Manufactured Terror from NYC for example, another one with a "let's shoot ourselves in the foot straight away" name). I reckon the band should just reform and pretend they are an upcoming band from a cool American city but they would probably have to do some Insta training first. A buzzing Insta account is half the work these days.

Brighton's CSOT are made up of people who were involved in bands like Substandard (one my favourite British bands from the 90's and another cruelly underrated one), MTA and PUS so they were already rather experienced when the band was born and from the start you could hear that they knew what they wanted to do. I cannot think of many bands capable of blending old-school crust with 90's anarchopunk so successfully. They managed to balance fast UK hardcore thrash with filthy metallic crust with ease and it must be said that the sound is crucial here: CSOT are raw. And I mean genuinely RAW and unpolished, not super tight actually, just like late 80's/early 90's bands were when energy, emergency and anger were what mattered the most. While so many modern bands strive to recreate that kind of vibe with gears, vintage shirts and fancy effects, CSOT just do it spontaneously as if it was just how they do things anyway. Unsurprisingly the two songs (the first of which, "Slaves to wealth" has exactly the same introduction as Death Side's opening number on their split with Chaos UK) were recorded in just one day and they are the perfect meeting point between the stench crust of Deviated Instinct and A//Solution and the 90's anarcho thrash of Sedition and Disaffect. Old-school punks delivering old-school punk. Bloody love it.

On the other side, you will find five songs by Deportation from the Netherlands (Amsterdam I believe). Now this is a far more obscure one as the band only recorded once, sometime in the late 00's. The thirteen songs from the session appeared on a cdr demo in 2009 but they were just too good not to be properly released on vinyl. Five of them landed on the present split with CSOT while six others were included on a split Ep with the solid Peace or Annihilation from Indonesia. I don't think the band toured much, from what I gather they were rather short-lived, and I could only find two live videos online, one of which was taken in Barcelona so I suppose it might have been more a local project. Despite all this, Deportation's humble recording is actually really good and therefore deserves to be rambled about online.

I am not too sure about the whole band's lineup, even though the fellows must have been involved in others. The guitar player did join Agathocles in 2012 and more recently started the band Raw Peace. Before Deportation singer Gośka used to sing in the good Sangre with people from Betecore, Olho de Gato and Boycot playing dynamic 00's-style anarchopunk with great dual male/female vocals (think a blind date between Bread and Water, Disaffect and To What End?) and she would eventually sing in Suicidade and Diesel Breath in the 10's. To a significant extent, Deportation is a different animal though. A more simple but extremely resilient and resourceful organism able to survive on just one food source: d-beat. The recipe is familiar and the band keeps it basic, effective and to the point. The songs are short and sweet (the five songs are about one minute long) and on that level I am reminded of Cracked Cop Skulls' primitive approach even though Deportation have a more rocking rounder sound. The straight-forwardness of 90's d-beat is a key but I would venture the band felt closer to Consume's galloping discore more than Dischange's strict obedience to the Scriptures. They are somewhere in the middle I guess. The fantastic two track female vocals confer a warm old-school metal punk feel and Gośka's tone can be compared to After the Bombs' here. Brilliant work. Two of the songs are about the cruel deportations of illegal immigrants from Europe and how it ruthlessly destroys lives. Tragically, things have only been getting worse in that respect since 2010. I suppose the band was never supposed to last very long and they did not record anything else. 

This was released in 2010 on RadicalHC Records, a label that also released the split Ep with Peace or Annihilation. As for CSOT they finally released a full album, Speak Truth to Power, in 2020 although it was recorded in 2014 (!). As expected it is a gruff angry slice of old-school British anarcho metal-punk done by proper punks who probably don't know what Tik Tok actually is. Lovely.  

Constant Deportation of Terror