Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Kids of the 90's (part 2): Deformed Conscience / Scourge split Ep, 1993

There were tons of bands in the 90's. In fact, just a quick search on the internet would be enough to give a vertiginous glimpse into the insane amount of punk bands that were active during that decade and I cannot help but remember this ace sample that both Subcaos and Destroy! used as an introduction to one of their mid-90's songs, "Sugadores" and "Anthem" respectively (granted, this one is more a burst of noise than what most people would consider "a proper song" but there you go, punx did challenge the ontological status of the music piece after all), in which a girl epically claims: "I think that punk-rock now is stronger than it ever was". I suppose you could argue endlessly over the relevance of such a statement and the definition of "strong" but still, I feel it does ring true to some extent. Of course, there are probably more bands today worldwide, but the main difference does not lie so much in sheer numbers but in the awareness of the actual existence of the bands. In 2017, all bands (this is rhetorical, there are of course exceptions) have a physical, local presence as well as a global, digital one. Even bands that are very local can potentially be heard by someone at the other end of the globe, which is both sensational and a little overwhelming at times. But twenty years ago (or even ten, really), a lot of bands were intrinsically local and unless you got their demo or saw them live in their area or if they happened to tour or if you had a mate who knew them, you would probably never hear them. 

I know it must all sound pretty obvious, and it is, but whenever I come across a great 90's "local band" that has flown under my anarcho detector, I reflect upon the role and the significance of punk bands in their scenes and how they and our own perceptions of them evolve through time, conjointly with broader cultural changes triggered by technology. Did you know that there were two bands called Scourge in the U$ of A active at the same time? I did not, until I scouted the internet for details about the Scourge included on today's record (and to be honest, I did not find many...). Then I realized, completely by chance, that there was another Scourge, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, that had a demo from 1993 and played amazing anarchopunk with male/female vocals, somewhere between Antischism and what Flat Earth Records put out at the time. How many more ace bands are there from that period that I have never heard, and maybe even never will? Exactly, bloody loads of 'em. And that's a very exciting thought for me.

But enough meditative bollocks already and let's get to this split then that saw Connecticut-based Deformed Conscience teaming up with Scourge. As I briefly discussed in the post about Crust and anguished life, Deformed Conscience is the perfect example of a band that most people kinda know but is not really listened to any longer. I first heard DC when I got my grubby punk hands on their split Lp with Excrement of War, however I had read about them quite often in the early 00's. I distinctly remember mentions of other crust bands (like React or State of Fear) featuring "ex-Deformed Conscience members" which indicated that, not only were the band an early instance of US crust, but also a respected, influential, act. And Marald drew covers for them so they had to be good, I thought. 

Years later, now that I have been graced with crust superpowers, I see DC as being part of the Big Three D's of Fast 90's US Crust (I copyrighted the phrase so don't bother nicking it, yeah?), along with Disrupt and Destroy!. DC never became as good as Disrupt (but then, who really did?) or as versatile as Destroy! but regardless, I would argue that their sound also helped shape what US crustcore would grow up to be throughout the 90's. And besides, their moniker has always reminded me of Deviated Instinct's which cannot be a bad thing, right? 

As far as I can guess, they must have formed sometime in 1990 and recorded two demos in 1991, a self-titled one and No excuse for suffering, that set the stage for their blend of Scandinavian crusty hardcore and fast and raspy US hardcore. I suppose you could describe DC's take as being rooted in Scandicore riffing and pummeling beats (No Security or Disrupt come to mind) but with a more extreme hardcore songwriting that certainly coincided with the rise of powerviolence at the time (bands like Dropdead or Demise are not far off at times). Basically, the harsh vocalic tone and (even more so) flow would not be out of place in a more strictly US hardcore setting and some beat structures are here to remind you that the year is 1993. Their first eponymous Ep (though some call it Indian givers after the name of the first song for some reason) was a deliciously crusty and raw hardcore record with punk-as-fuck artwork, aggressive dual vocals (a shame they didn't use them on the subsequent split) and enough cohesive variety in the songs to keep it from falling into genericity (early Doom meets Dropdead and Embittered or something?). Some sloppy bits here and there, but they are what made early 90's crust so enjoyable in my book, on this great unpretentious Ep released on Swiss label Off The Disk (which also put out materials from Infest, Fear of God or Disrupt if you know what I mean).

The additional sleeve...

The year after, DC came back with a better, heavier bass-driven sound on this split Ep. Although I personally miss the dual vocal attack, this effort is more powerful indeed. The song "How free am I?" starts off with a punchy mid-paced moment with dark riffing before exploding into typical crustcore crunch. All in all reminiscent of Hiatus which is always a good thing. The second one, "End the pain", opens with a slow and groovy metallic part (somewhere between Siege and Deviated Instinct) before getting to Scando fury with the delightful addition of an anarcho spoken part from the singer which makes this song some kind of 90's crust bingo. The last one is short, more aggressive and faster than the rest and more akin to the Dropdead school of thought. Following this, DC would release three more records, the Constant strife Ep in 1993, a split Ep with 3-Way Cum the next year  and the aforementioned split Lp with the might EOW (which took three years to be - very poorly - released though...).

The lyrics on the split deal with the oppressive nature of American democracy, the desperation of drug abuse and animal cruelty. And I just love the cover art on DC's side with its vintage late 80's underground metal-punk vibe. This is how it is done. After the demise of the band, drummer Pete went on to hit things with Dissension, React and Hail of Rage, while guitar hero John sang and played the bass for State of Fear, before switching back to the ole "guitar and voice" for Calloused.

I wish I had a lot to say about Scourge but unfortunately I do not. This split was their sole vinyl contribution and the internet is remarkably quiet when it comes to them (it could be a curse put on bands called Scourge since very little information is available about their Albuquerque homonym either). There were actually three versions of this split Ep. The one I own was released on Spoon Fed Records with cover art and lyrics for each band. But there is a second version of it, released on the same label, with a different foldout cover (that was still included in my version of the record for some reason...) but no information or anything about DC and with different artwork and a lot more more details about Scourge. Finally, there is a third, pre-release version of the split, released on Fetus Records, a Phoenix label who did not seem too happy about Scourge... A bit of an odd one. But anyway, judging from the inlay included in the second version, Scourge were a four-piece from Arizona and... that's about all I know. Well, not completely, since the singer and artist of the band, Mike, would play the bass later on in a hugely influential Oakland band, and arguably one of the very best crust acts of the decade, namely Skaven. The connection between the two bands is fairly obvious if you only care to actually look at the Scourge's art drawn by Mike, who also did a lot of artwork for Skaven (and let's face it, he is a very talented geezer with a distinct, disturbed artistic vibe). I had that OMG moment when lazily manipulating the record, looking for clues, until I thought "this is funny, it reminds me a lot of some Skaven drawings" and then "wait a second, it has to be the same bloke who did them" and finally "what a fool I have been all this time..." which is turning into a bit of a mantra for me lately.

Anyway, Scourge played a very different kind of punk-rock though, slightly dissonant, freakish hardcore with great snotty vocals and a hypnotic vibe. Like Resist and Econochrist on mushrooms or something? Not necessarily a genre I am that familiar with but it works perfectly on that split. The art is amazing (there is another piece by someone named Gross that also looks fantastic) and I really enjoy the aggressively anti-religious diatribes that make up the words of the two songs "Moral prison" and "One fine sunday with Jesus" (especially this last one actually). If anyone has more intel about Scourge, please share.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Kids of the 90's (part 1): Dischange / Excrement of War split Ep, 1991

Still bollox but still here. 

I have not written anything for the past month because - in all honesty - I was clueless about what to do next. The anarchopunk series had left me drained. I was lost, cold, battered, little more than a pathetic, staggering version of myself, my good looks and proverbial biting wit all but gone. Remember when Austin Powers loses his mojo in one of the movies? Well that was me, only I have got much better clothes and hair (not too sure about the teeth but let's not focus on that). I still had many ideas for Terminal Sound Nuisance but suddenly none of them sounded fun. Sad emoji face indeed. So I took some time off and traveled to South-East Asia in order to find myself and take selfies in front of neat-looking temples. Well, not really actually, I just locally boozed my way through the month, waiting to be struck by inspiration. To no avail. 

Until one day, as I was coming home after a rather enjoyable gig, I just looked through my record collection without anything in mind, or rather, with a completely open one. I realized that a significant portion of it was made up of 90's records, most of which no longer seemed to trigger general punk enthusiasm nowadays (the average Discogs price is usually a good indicator, albeit a fairly depressing one) but were still lovable and even - in some cases - genuinely good, to me anyway. After a good hour of mumbling to myself "Who still gives a shit about this one? And about that one? And what about this little bugger, I don't even recall buying it..." I took a meditative break and tried to remember and reconnect with the core values of the blog (as stated in "The Terminal Sound Nuisance Constitution of 2012"), which can basically be summarized as lengthy talks about bands and records that deserve to be talked about but are only marginally so in our culture of cultural overconsumption, floundering attention span and neglect of punk as a critical discursive art form.  The solution became clear, obvious. Weren't the 90's supposed to be fashionable now? I remembered seeing a lot of lads with typical 90's boy bands haircut recently, which of course I took as a good omen and a sign. I had to respond quickly and accordingly. 

As a result ten loud 90's split records, mostly Ep's but not exclusively, that no one really cares about anymore were carefully selected in order to exemplify the decade's specificities. Expect sloppy, crusty hardcore from the most important common denominator: genuineness. 

And let's start with a dischargy split Ep from 1991 between Dischange and Excrement of War. If you are a consistent TSN reader (and why wouldn't you be? It's an ace blog!), you know that I have always been thoroughly obsessed with British crust and hardcore and punk in general and it would come as no surprise to read that I originally bought the Ep for EOW and not for Dischange. When I got it (in the mid 00's), I don't think I had ever listened to Dischange. I knew Meanwhile through compilation tracks but was unaware that it was the same band under a different name. At that time, with a few exceptions, I was suspicious of the D-beat genre and honestly did not rate it very high. I certainly did not see Discharge as "a D-beat band", that would have been irrelevant and anachronistic, since the genre's essence lies on the repetition and emulation of vintage Discharge (could 2017 Discharge qualify as a D-beat band, like a contextualized recreation of oneself?). I thought that Disclose were too noisy for their own good but at least had that going for them, that Disaster were lovingly goofy because they sounded just like Discharge and that Disfear sounded like a bloody steamroller, but that was that. The Dis is getting pathetic Ep from Active Minds (the first one I bought from them) certainly had a lot to do with my wariness of the D, which was quite ironic since the Ep was very much about the 90's D-beat wave, which I was too young too have known anyway. But still, I must admit that their anti-D-beat rant (which may actually have been written about Dischange if I remember well) did leave a mark on my young mind at the time and definitely made me unimpressively look at Dischange. 

Older and wiser (?) now, I must say that I really enjoy the Dischange songs from this Ep and the band's relevance to the genre cannot be underestimated. They formed in the late 80's (not sure exactly when but their first demo was recorded in 1989) with Jallo, then drummer for the mighty No Security, on the guitar and vocals, and can be considered to be the first proper D-beat band, with the drive to sound and look JUST LIKE Discharge it entails, along with contemporaries Disaster (if Discard did lay the template for the dimension of Discharge worship, they never aimed at sounding just like Discharge, neither did Disattack and they were far more obscure anyway). The three songs included on the split were Dischange's first vinyl appearance and can be thought to be perfectly representative, if not foundational, of what the Swedish D-beat orthodoxy would grow to be in the following decades, with that crushing, pummeling, precise relentlessness, the monstrous riffs and the harsh vocals. The songs "After-war scars" and "Dead end" clearly fall in the Hear nothing category but my favourite is "On knees" whose groovy bass line is gloriously reminiscent of Why (I like my D-beat with some groove). The production is just fine for the genre, powerful but not too heavy as I am one to believe that there has to be an element of urgency and rawness in the D for it to be appealing (I often find Swedish D-beat to be too tight but that's not the case here, probably because it is an early instance of this peculiar variety). Dischange also released a split Ep with CFDL the following year and a full Lp in 1993 that I find a bit hard to sit through to be honest. They then changed their name to Meanwhile (and if you care to look at the label on Dischange's side it actually reads "Dischange - Meanwhile" which could indicate that they intended to call their side of the split Meanwhile... or not, it is a wild guess) which was a good call. Not only did they arguably get better during their Meanwhile era, but if the idea to swap a letter in the word "discharge" in order to obtain a new Dis-name is kinda funny, its realization is more embarrassing. 

On the other side of the split are a band whose name always makes me very self-conscious when I am wearing the shirt (I actually got into a needlessly long and unpleasant discussion with an odoriferous man about the use of the word "excrement" printed on clothes on the metro once... believe me, you do not want to know, but it was a long ride): Excrement of War, from Dudley, not too far from Birmingham if you are asking yourself. This lot were possibly the most intentionally Swedish of all the English hardcore bands of the early 90's with references to Anti-Cimex and Shitlickers even in the participants' nicknames. However, little do people know (and I only do because I am a loyal Glasper reader) that EOW originally started in 1990 as a boisterous, inept-sounding but cider-loving Chaos UK/Disorder band, before Stick (from Doom) joined. EOW was formed by Tom (of Genital Deformities), Rat (ex Indecent Assault and the greatly-named Depth Charge) and one Wonka with the idea of playing noisy Bristol punk, and although it did not work out, they still recorded a demo with that sound, which I would be very curious to hear indeed. Anyway, the proper EOW, the one we all (?) remember really started when Stick joined on drums after Doom went on a hiatus and the band decided to play punchy, punk-as-fuck Swedish hardcore with gruff vocals. This Ep was their first vinyl appearance, although the four EOW songs were originally part of a demo that Stick sent to Finn Records (the recording also included a Doom cover entitled "Relief (part 3)" which did not make it on the Ep but at least answers the fateful question of "but who did the part 3 then?"). 

If Doom initially wanted to be Discard - a noble endeavour in and of itself - you might imagine that EOW wanted to be Protes Bengt, in the sense that in their early days the band shared the same over-the-top urgent enthusiasm, that effective hardcore punk simplicity and straight-forward impactive crudity (yes, you may lol). Basically, you can tell that the trio had fun recording the songs and I would argue that the chaotic vibe that permeates the four songs, one that is also not quite unlike mid-80's Chaos UK if you think about it, makes for a nice and crunchy contrast with Dischange's starkness. And when the two bands on a split complement each other well, which is the whole point of such a format, you know you've got a good one. It could be suggested that the band's great dynamics on this record be somehow linked with Doom's lack thereof at that time. As Stick explains in Armed with anger, by 1990 "it seemed we (Doom) had lost our direction, or directness anyway, so I wanted to re-achieve what I'd already had". Who said that the way of the D couldn't be therapeutical? Of course, Doom would become again a force to be reckoned with a new lineup (and Tom on vocals) from 1993 on, but I definitely hear a manic liberating element to EOW's early years. Although clearly Swedish hardcore-fueled, the vocals also have that delightfully excessive gruff crusty edge that characterized the late 80's UK scene of Extreme Noise Terror, Mortal Terror and Sore Throat. The band went on to record fine records of fast and direct Dis-inspired crusty hardcore, The waste and the greed Ep being a tighter and better-produced take on what was glimpsed on the split with Dischange, but never really found back the snotty vibe of these early recordings afterwards (this is not to say that I don't like Cathode ray coma or the split Deformed Conscience, but they were recorded with a different lineup and I don't approach them in the same way as I do early EOW's output).  

That must have been a cracking night out

This wonderful split Ep was released on Finn Records, a Swedish label - as the name doesn't suggest - that was active from 1989 to 1999 and put out brilliant Swedish hardcore records by the likes of Totalitär, Disfear or G-Anx. There was the label's distro list from November 1991 included with the split Ep which is bound to make you feel nostalgic if you were around at the time (I was not so it just makes me excited).  

The infamous Meanwhile reference


Monday, 11 September 2017

The Tumult of a Decad (part 10): Terminus "Fear, despair & hate" Ep, 1989

This is the last stop of The Tumult of a Decad, it has been a pleasure as usual, thank you all for coming and please make sure to sign the guest book on your way out. Ta. I honestly could not think of a better band than Terminus to end the series, first because of the band's name (pretty subtle, right?), second and more importantly because Terminus were one of the most unique bands of their time. Like Indian Dream, Terminus are no newcomers to Terminal Sound Nuisance since I have already raved about them on two occasions, for the Eight Years Too Late article (here) and the Endless Struggle compilation double Lp (here).

I know the term "unique" is being used so often and in such a lazy way when discussing music that it has become almost meaningless and, ironically, a bad sign. When I am being told that a band is "unique", I instantly think that it must sound like all the other ones similarly characterized as being "unique", as if the adjective was purely descriptive and a reference to a preconceived set of specific traits that - for some reason - were deemed reflective of "uniqueness", as if bands could claim to play "unique punk-rock". Know what I mean? It is all very silly and bourgeois in the end since being "unique" is possibly the most pregnant obsession of the middle-class that is always so terrified to be perceived as being "like everybody else". But then, you can be "unique" and terrible at the same time... Anyway, Terminus were genuinely unique and like most unique bands, they were pretty much a Marmite band which you either loved or hated. I remember a particularly nasty review of The Graveyard of Dreams cd in an issue of Gadgie which stated (from memory) that it was "shite on toast". There were also very positive reviews of Terminus' works, of course, but the good as well as the bad ones all had one thing in common in that they struggled to define the band's sound and find relevant points of comparison. Terminus have been compared to The Damned, The Mob, Motörhead, Anti-Nowhere League, Bad Religion, Naked Raygun, The Stranglers, Subhumans, Hawkwind, Bauhaus, Amebix... And as endless as this list might be, I would gladly add Leatherface, Social Distortion, Cult Maniax, The Dark, Ritual and The Misfit to it. 

The trouble to aptly locate the band in a relevant frame of references and influences teaches us three important things. First, that the music of Terminus escapes easy categorization. Second, that we often project our own musical background and reference system onto a band we struggle with. And third, that, in spite of the apparent difficulty to correctly grasp Terminus, the band still reminded all the reviewers of a familiar band (even very unlikely ones sometimes). This last point makes Terminus a band that sounds both familiar to an experienced amateur of punk music and yet remains strangely undefinable and out of reach because it resists easy musical parallels. The best thing about all this was that Terminus did not consciously set out with the idea to sound like no one and everyone at the same time (quite a feat if you think about it), like your run of the mill, ordinarily mediocre, self-absorbed arty indie rock band from a university city would have. They just did their own thing and wrote music while keeping in mind the diverse tastes of the band members (and there have been quite a few of them in the band's history). Another element crucial to the making of Terminus was that the band took its time. Very far from the quick prolificity that was usual in the 80's (with the short-livedness that often came with it), the band waited almost four years after they formed in 1983 before releasing their first Ep, which would be unthinkable for most bands by today's standards. 

Terminus were from Scunthorpe, a steel town in the North-East, a place I know so little about that I cannot think of another punk band from there. They recorded three demos before the first Ep: a self-titled one in 1984, then Catalog of Crimes in '85 and finally Body Count in '86. They are interesting listens, quite low-fi and cover a large musical scope in terms of genres, from '77 punk-rock, to fast and tuneful hardcore, goth-punk, folk music, heavy rock and psychedelic punk, while remaining cohesive works at the same time, without that patchwork feel I always dread, all tied up with great dark tunes, a rocky vibe and a sense of warm melancholy and combative pessimism. I am tempted to bombard you with parallels and comparisons right now but it would be a pointless effort so let's just say it sounds like heartfelt, rocking but dark anarchist punk-rock. 

The Star Born Thing Ep, self-released in 1987, confirmed the band's potential and gift for catchy hooks and cracking tunes. It also epitomized what Terminus did best, writing paradoxical songs that sound dark and rather desperate but still retain some human warmth and organicity. In that sense, they are completely romantic and the lyrics certainly reinforce that feeling with "Star born thing" being about social otherworldliness and "(Waiting for the) purge" telling the story of a revolutionary waiting for his executioners to take him. The evocatively named second Ep that interests us today, Fear, Despair & Hate, was released in 1989 on Terminus' own TPPL Records. It has a rockier production than its earthy-sounding predecessor and is a strong, powerful follow-up. I suppose you could compare it with that strange, loner kid from school, the odd one out that still somehow belongs. When compared to what British punk sounded like in the late 80's, Terminus had no equivalent but still managed to fit in the punk-rock family, albeit on the edge of it (not unlike Crow People perhaps?). 

The Ep starts with a rather macabre metal-tinged ballad (yes, you read that right) called "Dance with the dead". It is a long, heavy and epic number which stands out in the band's discography with over-the-top guitar solos and borderline cheesy riffs. And although I would not listen to a whole album of such songs, it works remarkably here thanks to the intense singing of Mark Richardson, full of passion, melancholy and indignation, and great, moving lyrics about the power of illusion and the doctrine of unavoidable defeat that the powers that be impose on us. It contains some memorable lines like: "Your 'love' is a disease, a symptom of the fear of a lifetime alone. / A glittering chimera that we search for in vain and grinds us down." The second song (my favourite) is "In another time" and is a faster, rocking one, with a depressive, atavistic and eerie The-Mob-meets-Motörhead-and-GBH feel. Despite the dark, hopeless lyrics about the impossible fantasy of a better, more fulfilling world, the song feels warm, uplifting even, like a bizarrely desperate feelgood song. The last one, "Hunt the hunt", is an anti-hunt fast hardcore number that sounds like Bad Religion having a drink with Leatherface (but probably not, they are just so frustratingly impossible to categorize). 

Terminus released two brilliant albums and three more Ep's after Dear, Despair & Hate that are all highly recommended if you need a revolutionary romantic punk band with working-class politics, fantastic tunes, deep moving vocals and - gasp - variety in their songwriting. The review of this Ep that was published in NME in 1989 said this: "Back to basics, dole boy rock, unimpressed, primitive and powerful". Pretty fitting. 

Terminus have a thorough website that I encourage you to visit

Thursday, 31 August 2017

The Tumult of a Decad (part 9): Statement / The Apostles "Reminence of a destructive age / The other operation" split Lp, 1988

This is a bit of an odd one. 

DIY or die

The British DIY punk scene in 1988 usually conjures up images of foul-breathed crusty punx growling into unsuspecting microphones or jumping bandanaed hardcore kids who wished they were born in Boston instead of Burnley. Well, to me anyway. Little do people remember that The Apostles were still around at that time, thus being one of the last anarchopunk bands formed in the early 80's still active seven years later, a survivor status that is highly ironic - and perhaps irrelevant - considering that the band were highly critical of the anarcho scene (Andy Martin even coined the term "Flux of Punk Idiots" which, I must admit, I find very funny). As for Statement, it was a one-man anarcho project that can be justly seen as the originator of militant vegan straight-edge punk in Britain, if not in the world. If you are not familiar with this record, the idea of a "performance art group" - as The Apostles refer to themselves - teaming up with a vegan SxE solo project might sound a little baffling if seen through our pervasively judgmental 2017 lens. But then, for all their often misunderstood political and musical radicalism, The Apostles were also a self-proclaimed open-minded bunch and Rat, the creator behind Statement, was not only mate with them but also drummed on their first album, Punk obituary. And is it just me or are there hypnotic guitar leads on both sides of the Lp?

As usual with works from The Apostles, there is as much to read (if not more) as to listen to so I am not going to retrace the band's history since they provided lengthy texts that did. So let's get to Statement right away.

It is unclear when Statement exactly started, but sometime around '83 or '84 sounds like a fair guess. Prior and simultaneous to Statement, Rat played in Muted Existence (which I have never heard) and in Arrogance, whose '87 demo was reviewed five years ago (times flies...) on Terminal Sound Nuisance (here). The UK punk scene cannot be said to have been a great purveyor of one-man bands. Of course, there were solo projects, usually folk music or poetry reading (or the proverbial drunk geezer shouting at the stage), but apart from the great Man's Hate (Andy Xport's project that can only be defined as anarcho-Beat music), Statement may have been the only one. And without using a drum machine, which is an exploit in itself. Discogs tells me that Rat released nine (!) Statement tapes between 1984 and 1987 on his own Active Sound Records but I am only familiar with the first one, a 16-song effort of mostly sloppy but energetic punk-rock with plenty of different moods, from Zounds-inspired pop-punk, to fast hardcore numbers reminiscent of SAS or vintage Conflict-like anarcho music. It is a bit of a tedious demo if you listen to it in one row, but then it was also a youthful work and there were some good songwriting ideas, especially in the snake-like guitar leads that sometimes pop up in the songs and remind me of Fallout or indeed The Apostles.

In 1987, Statement released a split Ep with - you'll never guess - The Apostles with two brilliant songs, the super catchy and tuneful Bluurg-like punk-rock anthem "Who won the human race" and the epic metal-punk number "A box with no corners" that brought Anihilated or early Deviated Instinct to mind. With two songs as solid as these, you would have thought that the next record was going to confirm all the good things appearing on the Ep. But then, fate struck and while the first split sounded great, the next one was the victim of a horrendous mastering work that made the whole Statement side sound close to the harsh and rough hardcore of Medellin (the infamous punk Medallo of HPHC, Bastardos Sin Nombre or Ataque de Sonido), which was probably not Rat's intention. It sounds bad. I know I am being hyperbolic here and the Statement side is not a complete wall of proto-grind earslaughtering distortion but it is clearly noisy, distorted and pretty cheap-sounding although accidentally and unpurposely. And it is exactly why I love it. Of course, a part of me wishes for a decent sound production (and unsurprisingly Rat dismisses this record, I suppose I would still be pissed as well), but then I think these Statement songs have an unbeatable sloppy charm and end up being unique examples at the time of a blend between vintage UK anarchopunk, harsh noisy hardcore and metal punk, basically tunes, distortion and heaviness. Sometimes, great things happen by accident and I cannot think of anything even remotely similar to these Statement songs in the UK in 1988. 

The side starts off with a dirgeful, noisy introduction before unleashing the first hit, a harsh Icons of Filth-type song with some crunchy metal riffs, hypnotic guitar leads (Rat was definitely very skilled in writing them), angry gruff vocals and an incredible conclusion that can best be described as poppy noisepunk. While you could argue that the horridly thin and saturated production completely spoils any attempt at tunefulness, I would tend to think that it offers something different, dissonant and ultimately interesting, like the meeting of subtle, soft anarcho-pop harmonies and distorted Bristol punk, as if Systematic Annex were jamming with Dirge or Disorder were covering A Touch of Hysteria. You've got all out fast hardcore numbers too, which work particularly well with the wall of distortion, as well as dark punk songs that bring Fallout or even Part 1 to mind with these cracking guitar melodies that remain stuck with you for days. Reminence (I know, I know) of a Destructive Age is a very diverse work since you will also find songs that would not have been out of place on a UK82 compilation and others that fit perfectly with the metal-punk sound that prevailed at the time (there's even a funky rap song!), and all these different vibes and genres are united by the ridiculous production and the entrancing, dark catchy leads that never fail to appear and mesmerize. I ultimately leave this Statement record to your personal appreciation, since the claim that the production makes it unlistenable and denatures the artist's intent. As for me, not being averse to rough sound and sloppiness, I think it is marvelous.

As you can expect, a lot of the songs revolve around animal liberation, veganism and being drug-free and since Rat puts his money where his mouth is (probably one of the weirdest expressions of the English language), there are also a lot of documentation about hunt-sabbing, the ALF and how to support animal rights through direct action. The record itself looks lovely and I really enjoy the anarcho-pagan artwork on Statement's inserts although I have reservations about the wyvern (it is a wyvern, right?) on the cover. Following the split Lp, Statement went on to become a tight metalcore project and got into the hardline movement of the early 90's. I often picture people into the whole hardline vegan SxE thing as wearing baseball caps, ample jerseys and sports shoes, so seeing the distinctively anarchopunk aesthetics of early Statement would probably be a huge shock for the younger generations of Earth Crisis fans, despite the obvious historical ties. 

On the flipside are The Apostles, possibly the most prolific bands of the anarchopunk wave (which they were a part of and will always be remembered as being, although they might have been anti-anarchopunk and defined themselves as revolutionary socialists). To be honest, I do not agree with nor do I condone all of their political views which they stated very clearly through a text provided with the Lp that I encourage you to read. However, I definitely respect their very confrontational, polemical and sincere approach to punk and politics, which set them apart from the hippyish end of the spectrum. Even if you disagree with them, at least The Apostles make you think, react and question. As for the music... Well they certainly lose me when they go too experimental, dissonant, plain weird or avantgarde (there is six-page text about avantgarde rock provided with the Lp if you are interested). However, I love their tuneful punky songs, be they threatening class war anthems like on the Blow it up '82 Ep or '85's Smash the spectacle (who doesn't like a situationist reference in punk-rock?). The other operation, which was recorded two years before the split Lp actually came out, lies heavily on the experimental and dissonant side of things and I much prefer The Apostles when they were more direct and tense. If my rather basic tastes in music are not developed enough for me to really relate to some songs here, I really enjoy the classically catchy punk-rock number "A love that's died" and the more aggressive-sounding, pummeling "Absolution of guilt", the proper gem of the split for me, reminiscent of The Apostles' early years. Generally speaking, I am actually really into Andy Martin's voice, which sounds both determined and vulnerable (like any real revolutionary, they would probably point out). I even kinda liked the 11-long song that makes up half of their side, a quietly epic jazzy, psychedelic, free rock lyrical track with different movements and moods (yes, there is even a punk moment on "A world we never made"). Perhaps I am not that narrow-minded after all.  

As usual with The Apostles the artwork is excellent, from the deliciously sarcastic comic on the cover (I absolutely love those, they are often a bit harsh but clearly truthful), to the vibrant drawings inside, it looks very neat indeed. Lyrically, the standout song is undeniably "A world we never made" (granted there are more than a few instrumentals on the album), which deals with alienation, depression and the inability to relate to a social world that we inherit but do not choose. It resonates perfectly with the artwork. 

Inevitably, the band also wrote texts about their political stance about various issues, ranging from feminism, homosexuality, nationalism and - of course - the irrelevance of punk and ruffle a few feathers.  

The Apostles' views

 A "short" introduction to avantgarde rock

Hunt sabbing in 1987

ALF propaganda

Evil multinationals

A mere punk add!