Monday, January 28, 2008

Filthkick 7"

Filthkick's notoriety is mainly derived from their split LP with ENT. Perhaps lesser known is their "Hand Crushed Heart" 7" (Desperate Attempt Records, 1993) which came out of nowhere and introduced (and concluded) an entirely new approach for the band. Instead of the ripping UK thrash of previous efforts, Filthkick hit the brakes a little and morphed into a sludgy metal outfit. The riffs are simple, burly, and hypnotic, adding credence to the subtle dementedness of the vocals. Said vocals, which consist of spoken/chanted phrases (provided by Leggo of Deviated Instinct fame) will definitely be a point of contention here with many listeners. Many will probably conclude that they don't quite match the dark gravity of the music. When I hear music like this, I usually expect hoarse screams or grunts, but, after many listens, I have come to see the twisted logic connecting the two disparate entities. Let me know what you think about this one! And, once again, sorry about the pops and crackles... this is fairly old and much abused wax I'm ripping.

Filthkick "Hand Crushed Heart"

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sedition - "Earthbeat" LP

By request, here is Sedition's opus, "Earthbeat" (1993). As mentioned in a long-ago post, Sedition was a political hardcore band from Scotland influenced thematically by an atavistic tribalism. Musically their influences stemmed from other UK political hardcore, a little '80's crossover, and, on this record at least, a bit of the emotive modern hardcore contemporaneously spreading across the globe. There are no throw-aways on this rager, and as lead-ins to most tracks the listener is treated to some stimulating sound samples taken from documentary films on various tribal societies (mainly from North America and Ireland/Scotland). Sedition's socio-political vision may deter some, but their musical power and rhetorical sincerity render those hang-ups superfluous.

According to Flat Earth Records, 3500 copies were pressed and sold (1000 of which came in Hessian sacks). The tracks were collected on Sedition's discography CD, "End in the Beginning... Beginning in the End," but good luck trying to find anything of theirs at a reasonable/sane price.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Eleventh Commandment

Gob's "Kill Yourself Commandment" LP (Satan's Pimp Records, 2000) carved out a niche big enough only for itself. Whatever label you try to slap on this band or record it is doomed to insufficiency, even though elements of noise rock, "Gravity Records" style hardcore, sludge, and grindcore rise to the surface in any given song. Gob's guitar sound is a twisted, drearisome, offensive hand gesture to all musical sensibility. However, in Jon Kortland's capable hands the murky discord lends concreteness to the sardonic spite that is Gob's gospel. The spontaneity of the rhythm section lightens the oppressiveness of the guitars by pulling the sludgier riffs out of their mire and into more chaotic, syncopated territory, incorporating jarring starts and stops, and integrating blast beats into the slower parts in ways I haven't heard elsewhere. Whether you end up loving or hating this band, you have to raise your glass to their uniqueness.

Members of Gob were/are in The Vae Victis (I believe) and Iron Lung (probably some other bands, as well). The only other Gob releases I recall are their split EP's with Spazz and Wink Martindale, although I have a feeling they released several others (leave a comment if you have more info!). There is also another band from Canada (pop punk?) of the same name, but there's no way you could possibly confuse the two.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Le Garage" 7" Comp.

To complete the trinity of 7" compilations, I offer "Le Garage." I am not posting this EP because it has the best recordings of the best hardcore bands that ever graced a stage. "Le Garage" is, rather, a piece of history documenting, celebrating, and mourning the beginnings of a "scene" and the demise of the venue which provided its germination. Some of the bands' names would come to epitomize the European hardcore of the '90's, but others fizzled out (or I just never followed their path). I was/am most interested here with Ivich and Finger Print. These two bands, for me at least, were the Pepsi and Coke (pardon the trite corporate comparison) of French hardcore. Both released excellent catalogues of music and undoubtedly influenced the current wave of French screamy hardcore (Amanda Woodward, Sed Non Satiata, etc.). The tracks each band supplied here represent their earliest, rawest incarnations. In fact, the Finger Print track contains no hint of their signature metallic yet emotive style, and the vocals go no where near fever pitch of Nicolas's later black metal-esque screeches. The band was apparently still searching for their sound, which may account for why this song never made it to their discography CD (which you can download here). A couple of the other, lesser known bands (Human Alert & Abolition) contributed great tracks, making this comp. both a curiosity and a great listen.

Track List:

Sea Shepherd - "What About Love?"
Ivich - "Engrenage"
Human Alert - "We Could've Been/Fuck You, Fuck Me"
Finger Print - "Docility"
Abolition - "Wie Bitte?"


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Anger & English

Hardcore was at a crossroads in 1993... Bands were either going metal, or more in the direction of that sentimental three letter word that will not be written here. Still others merged with the whole crust sub-genre. But what of the bands that seemed to refuse our perverse need to label, and which made their mark with their own singularity? I'm thinking, of course, about acts like Born Against, Rorschach, Econochrist, and the lesser known bands who branded their logos and ethos in the psyches of hardcore's dispossessed and jaded. One vestige of this bygone moment is the "Anger and English" 2x7" compilation released on Framework Records (1994?). This comp. showcased 14 inches of label-defying hardcore from bands ranging from ultra obscure (Factory) to legendary (Man Is The Bastard). Considering that there are only four bands featured, "A&E" does wonders in capturing both the creativity and the transience of its unique moment.

Side One: Campaign. This was Chris Jensen's band before Halfman. I was an early admirer of Chris's by virtue of his being in 2 great bands and also being a teacher (at the time I was studying for this same profession). Campaign's sound borrowed from east coast hardcore and maybe a little grindcore, but the product is Campaign's very own. The pummeling rhythm section, protean tempos, clean guitars, and raspy punk vocals were a combination that screamed originality, yet the finished product was warm and strangely recognizable. The two tracks here are among Campaign's best.

Side Two: Factory. Beyond their 3 songs on "A&E," I know of zero evidence of Factory's existence. Their sound is burly most of the time, and I enjoy their songs until I start following their lyrics. The words in this case, ruin it.

Side Three: Man Is The Bastard. Band history is redundant. This is the band that somehow was alternately categorized as powerviolence and sludge. Their elusiveness is perfect for this comp. They were legendary, for me, because of their live fury; no recording will ever replace the way I felt during and shortly after their live sets. But these tracks are certainly among their most listenable and enjoyable. The recording isn't as heavy as usual, making the jazzy aspects of their music seem more pronounced. And zero in on Connell's drumming... he is in RARE form!

Side Four: Scapegrace. I would love to see this band get more recognition. Scapegrace is a great example of the myriad bands whose disappearance was as quick and thorough as was their career and the amount of ass they kicked. Having left behind only ep's and comp. tracks, they were doomed to obscurity. Scapegrace's talent and originality are nowhere more evident than on these "A&E" tracks. Some have noted the dissonance in the guitars being similar to later Born Against, and others have compared the vocals to Roger Miret's on "Liberty and Justice for..." Whatever the comparisons, Scapegrace were the only ones doing what they were doing, and they did it really fucking well.

Download "Anger and English"

Buy the last stragglers:

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Complacency Comp.

While not a huge fan of compilations (especially those on the 7" format), it was hard to pass this fucker up. When "Complacency" was released, I about shit myself when I saw two of my favorite bands (HHIG and Systral) sharing a comp. As it turned out, there were four other reasons to drop a load. All the bands contributed excellent material, and a few of the tracks are tough to find elsewhere. Not much more needs to, or can be said about this disc, other than it's an intense little battery of sonic fire power.
Track List:
Systral - "Untitled"
His Hero Is Gone - "Skin Feast"
Default - "It's Only Getting Colder"
Suppression - "Heightened Awareness"
Suppression - "Pipe Bomb"
Code 13 - "Criminal Empire"

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Health Hazard & Sawn Off 7"

Since we're on the topic of ultra-raging splits, we can't ignore this noisy specimen released by two bands with long histories (or would go on to create long histories. Futures?...) Health Hazard took England and the world by storm with their 7" and 10", and finished their reign with this split 7". On this release, the recording on the guitars seems cleaner than on previous outings (definitely less bass dominance than on the 10"), and it appears that the band was really coming into its own musicianship-wise (just in time to call it quits). These are perhaps HH's best written songs, although their entire discography is awesome. Their sound can be perhaps described as the intersection between ENT and Ripcord/Heresy, with the vocals of Pink Turds in Space (but not really). The first track supplies some unexpected levity in the form of a "Funky Town" cover, and the track "Just for Now" was later re-recorded with different lyrics by Suffer (the band three of the members would form in HH's wake), for the "Complacency" compilation (post on this disc soon). On the other side, Sawn Off make/made what I believe was their debut. They are a perfect match for Health Hazard, as they played a similar raucous style of fastcore/hardcore, but with atrocious distortion and production. Their lyrics deal with the usual hardcore fare, but with a healthy serving of snideness (e.g. observe the title of their side and the image of a dog taking a big leak on a big cross). Members of Sawn Off went on to play in Boxed In, Shank, Endless Blockade, Afterbirth and other bands, all of whom are great. Somewhere out there, you may be able to find Health Hazard's discography CD from Prank Records (also serves as a Suffer discography), but I'm not sure about the availability of Sawn Off's material.

.... to show how much you meant

Okay, here it is. While all the kids were chuckling it up to Spazz records, this little EP, much to the chagrin of my roommates, was a permanent fixture on my turntable (all right, so I was listening to a lot of Spazz, too...). This is Slap-A-Ham Records #26, and one of my favorite recs. that label ever belched forth. Suppression offer nothing new in comparison to the last record posted, which is a good thing. It's just more bass and noise obsessed grindcore delivered with vein-popping anger. Very therapeutic. Despise You were one of the greatest beasts whelped from the California "powerviolence" catastrophe. The distortion and drum production is enough to suffocate the heartiest grind freaks, but Alex and Leticia's vocals keep the overall sound within the boundaries of hardcore. The performance is tight and fierce, and I am convinced that this is the best collection of songs this band produced so far. That's right, I was elated to find out that the band is now/still active, if only at a moderate level (and they're actually playing shows which are advertised to the public!). Their amazing discography is available for purchase at their myspace site, as well as some other merch. Here are the rips from my warped old copy of the 7", but below are some links to CDs with more songs and better quality (support the bands!).
Buy their CDs:

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Cripple Bastards/Suppression Split LP

As '90's artifact number 1 billion, I present to you this split LP (Bovine Records, 1997) between Italian grindcore stalwarts, Cripple Bastards, and Virginian noise-violence misanthropes, Suppression. Unless you've been living in a cave lined with grindcore-free insulation, you know Cripple Bastards. For information about them, including lyrics, visit their excellent website. The 23 tracks they provide on this LP were supposedly some prime cuts from their "Your Lies In Check" album but with rougher production (which the band felt was more appropriate for their sound). "YLIC" is still available, but these versions are long out of print. CB's split-mates, Suppression, rival them with a sound that has been rightfully described as the illegitimate child of Crossed Out and Man Is The Bastard. The songs are simple, but formidable as fuck, alternating between slow, crushing, repetitive parts that are bursting at the seams with distortion and feedback, and ultra-brutal blast-beat stints matched in intensity only by the previously mentioned bands and perhaps Hatred Surge. These tracks are also included in Suppression's partial discography "9296" if you like what you hear and want more. I might be posting their 7" with Despise You next, but in the meantime: put your hand on the volume knob and prepare some ointment for your new asshole.