In Crust We Trust: Vol. 5

Kia ora, comrades. Welcome to In Crust We Trust Vol. 5.

I usually start this monthly soirée with a long-winded introduction. However, this month, you’re going to be spared the usual meandering preamble—you’re welcome, btw. I’ve been busy dealing with a rectum-ravaging virus that even a diehard coprophiliac would likely find a bit fucking much. So, sorry, there’s no prologue while I’m struggling not to prolapse. But I’m sure you’ll survive, right?

I did have a couple of introductory thoughts pass through my mind—in between the violent late-night purges of my undercarriage. Most of those thoughts focused on aging punks and metallers, and the never-ending horror show as our well-worn bodies begin to fall apart. I also had a few thoughts about the generational schisms that arise as punk and metal fans grow older. But mostly I just sat on the can this month thinking, “Jesus, fuck, Christ almighty… I could probably sell a photo of that mess to Pissgrave for their next album cover.”

Obviously, old man issues like graying temples and leaky bladders aren’t hot-button punk rock topics. Although, I guess pissing your pants is kind of punk. But probably not if it’s because your incontinence diaper is overflowing. Anyway, I wisely decided to leave all the ‘Grandpa’s yelling at the clouds again’ bullshit until the next time round. Right now, I’ve got a gigantic bottle of bleach, a shiny hazmat suit, and a Pollock-worthy splatterfest to clean up.

As always, thanks a million for stopping by.

Enjoy the noise.

Victims – The Horse and Sparrow Theory

Swedish d-beat band Victims have a high profile amongst battle-vested rivetheads and dog-on-a-string crusties. The band’s last album, 2016’s Sirens, was released by stalwart label Tankcrimes, and it cemented Victims’ position in the roll-call of hard-hitting crossover groups. However, Victims’ latest album, The Horse and Sparrow Theory, is being released by the bigger kids at Relapse Records.

A lot of bands, particularly those who’ve recorded elsewhere, get a beefier audio boost after joining Relapse’s roster, and Victims’ new album certainly has a heavyweight impact, both sonically and lyrically. Plenty of punk bands who’ve also gotten a sniff of potentially more underground acclaim have watered down their principles and political bite, but that’s not the case with Victims. The band are 20 years into their career, but even after all that time in the trenches, Victims’ ideas and their ideals remain fired up and focused.

In fact, The Horse and Sparrow Theory is probably the band’s most politically engaged and even more enraged album yet. (The album’s title references hotly debated economic theories.) Far from being disheartened by inaction or exhausted by self-serving political machinations, The Horse and Sparrow Theory tears into socio-political inequalities, environmental neglect, and the manifest (and intertwining) woes of capitalism, class, corruption, and greed.

Victims’ uncompromising lyrics are matched to fist-raising hardcore; with tougher-than-tough riffs, fervent vocals, and a highly animated rhythm section driving their songs. Hurtling tracks like “The Birth of Tragedy,” “Revenge of Our Fathers,” “Fires Below,” and mini-epic “We Fail” have a clear message to deliver—but they’re not dry or dusty lectures. Hook-laden melodies rise in stampeding tracks, with Victims unleashing Molotov-hurling maelstroms like “The Sea and the Poison” or “There’s Blood on the Streets.”

The Horse and Sparrow Theory delivers exactly what you’d expect—searing blasts of d-beaten hardcore. However, there’s also no denying the album is slicker and sharper than Victims’ previous releases. Some of the band’s jagged edges have been sanded down, but Victims’ Discharge (and Motörcharged) influences haven’t been diluted, even if they do express broader creative ambitions than before.

Ultimately, The Horse and Sparrow Theory is still deafening, defiant, and rebellious—and it’s always heartening to see battle-scarred d-beat veterans continuing to fight for the cause. The Horse and Sparrow Theory displays a staunch commitment to rabble-rousing, and the album’s combination of aggression and intelligence highlight passion and rage undiminished by time.

Friendship – Undercurrent

Japanese band Friendship reaped a fair amount of well-deserved acclaim following the release of their obliterating full-length debut, Hatred. The band’s new album, Undercurrent, is once again seeing an international release via Southern Lord, and as before, Friendship’s full-bore tracks violently fuse thick / heavy blackened hardcore with crusty / sludgy powerviolence.

Most of the Japanese punk I usually write about is inspired by dissonant heroes like Framtid or Disclose. However, Friendship’s sound is far thicker and sturdier, sounding more like the early years of US bands Nails or Full of Hell. Undercurrent delivers 10 tracks in 22 minutes, and Friendship don’t fuck around. The band’s oppressive songs are all heavily muscled and free of fat, and much like fellow Japanese behemoths Coffins, Friendship mine a few extra tons of blunt-force heaviness.

Undercurrent isn’t a simple repeat of Hatred, though. The core ingredients (essentially) remain the same, but where Hatred had layer upon layer of crust and dirt mixed into its grinding mechanics, Undercurrent is more honed and finished. Friendship’s bludgeoning songs are still misanthropic as hell, but Undercurrent is more polished in both technical and textural terms. Rest assured, Friendship still wield a formidable amount of hostility, and frenzied hardcore still boils in Undercurrent‘s innards. The band’s songs still hurtle along at red-lining speeds as well, and a stronger dose of tungsten-strength death metal echos in this record’s hardest hitting batteries.

It’s easy to dismiss most releases touted as reaching new levels of extremity. But Friendship’s full-length debut genuinely pushed past previous barriers and dug deep into traumatic audio terrain. Undercurrent differs in tone and texture to Hatred’s more feral ferocity, but it matches their first in terms of merciless temperament and the sheer intensity of the band’s brutal performances. Ultra-dark. Ultra-heavy. Ultra-mean. What’s not to love?

Extended Hell – Mortal Wound

Headsplitters – S/T

New York bands Headsplitters and Extended Hell have toured together a couple of times, and both groups have also recently released their full-length debuts. Extended Hell features members drawn from ear-splitting groups like Urchin and Narcoleptics, and the band’s previous EPs have all made for bruising encounters. Extended Hell’s Mortal Wound 12″ is an absolute ripper, too—loaded with crust-coated d-beat and gutter hardcore, with not a second wasted on blowhard histrionics. Extended Hell get right down to berserker business here, delivering hard-as-nails (and raw af) tracks that grind the pulverizing influence of Anti Cimex and Totalitär up in a cyclone-speed blender.

Headsplitters also deal in all-guns-blazing hardcore that’s as gritty as Escape from New York or The Warriors. The band’s self-titled full-length is replete with red-raw pandemonium, and powered by unstoppable fury. However, Headsplitters hold tight to their in-your-face songs, even when unleashing the most barbaric deluges. No question, Headsplitters’ eponymous album is a riotous melee throughout, but the band’s strength lies in their ability to deliver fierce storms of chaotic noise while always maintaining a tight, thickset sound.

Alphanumeric – Condemnation of Memory

The big hook for Florida-based Alphanumeric is that ex-Assück vocalist Paul Pavlovich is doing all the howling and yowling. Although, it clearly also helps that members of Swamp Gas, Commit Suicide and Solstice are contributing. Alphanumeric deal in old-school grindcore, the kind that’s crusty enough, wretched enough, and pissed-off enough to appeal to punks, metalheads, and grind freaks alike. The band’s debut EP, Condemnation of Memory, features six hyperspeed tracks that are about as comforting as a red-hot shard of metal in your eye, and about as cranked and amped as weekend meth bender. Self-recorded, released on Pavlovich’s new Roman Numeral label, and with James Plotkin on mastering duties, Condemnation of Memory ticks a lot of boxes: all of them loud, all of them fierce, and all of them deranged.

Step to Freedom – The Rotten Era

I spend an inordinate amount of time trawling blogs, YouTube, and Bandcamp looking for ugly releases to share, and I still manage to miss a mountain of great music along the way. Case in point: Russian stenchcore band Step to Freedom. The Nizhny Novgorod-based four-piece released an EP, The Rotten Era, a few months back, but I only stumbled on the metallic monster recently. Step to Freedom have a couple of other releases under their belt already, and they’re all essentially comprised of harsh, bass-driven crust that’s both noxious and evocative of a very bleak reality.

My knowledge of Russian crustcore doesn’t extend very far past the reliably excellent Moscow crew Fatum, and if you enjoy that band’s thundering stenchcore—or the ear-splitting punk of OG crusties like Misery, Deviated Instinct or Axegrinder—then Step to Freedom will also likely appeal. I’m genuinely stoked to have stumbled on The Rotten Era; it’s one of those cranium-cracking gems so often lost in all the noise. Fans of guttural punk, squalid crust, and doom-choked hardcore should tune in. The Rotten Era‘s production features ample heaviness and density, and the EP deserves a wider audience.

Scumripper – All Veins Blazing

Depressor – Hell Storms Over Earth

Finnish trio Scumripper and San Franciso cvlt band Depressor aren’t 100% punk bands per se. However, crust’s palpable influence on both means their latest releases unquestionably deserve coverage right here. Scumripper’s long-awaited debut, All Veins Blazing, doesn’t deviate from the punked-up black / death / thrash template they established on their well-regarded, albeit unsavory, 2015 demo. Quick-fire tracks like “Slay. Scum. Day,” “Nuns ‘n’ Doses,” and “Rock the Bone” churn and grind with plenty of rip, shit or bust attitude, as does an obnoxious ditty like “Put a Boot to His Cock.” Scumripper’s rotten output has been compared to the most putrid ejaculations of groups like Autopsy or Abscess. That’s a fair comparison, but mainly in the sense that Scumripper’s filthy metalpunk is also as degenerate as a lunchbreak wank.

San Francisco band Depressor was founded back in 1992 by guitarist / vocalist / songwriter Chris Oxford. Early on, Depressor’s hybrid industrial metal replicated the stylings of groups like Godflesh or Pitch Shifter. By the late-90s, though, Depressor were mixing death metal, grindcore and primitive crust, channeling influences like Amebix and GISM through the prism of early-Celtic Frost and Discharge. It was a great sound, but little heard, which enigmatic label Sentient Ruin is putting to rights by releasing obscure recordings from Depressor’s crust era on the band’s Hell Storms Over Earth retrospective.

Hell Storms Over Earth includes a storming set of tracks recorded for an unreleased split with legendary Japanese punks Disclose, as well as scores of other bleeding-raw ragers. All the bulldozing blasts of raw and heavyset death / crust are impressive, and remastering the four-track recordings has only amplified their inherent filth and apocalyptic bleakness. Shining a light on little or unheard creative exploits is always an interesting exercise, but it’s not always a successful one. In this case, Sentient Ruin should be applauded for highlighting Depressor’s punishing endeavors, which definitely deserve the attention, and more.

Hell Storms Over Earth is perfect for the old guard or the new, with downtuned and genuinely brutal metalpunk powered by intimidating levels of antipathy. Sure to one of the year’s best crust releases, retrospective or not.

Electrozombies – Darkness Is Rebellion

Chilean three-piece Electrozombies came to my attention in 2017 (via a great split with UK crust legends Doom), but the band have actually been making a hellish racket since the early 2000s. Electrozombies features sisters Marcela (on bass) and Paola (on drums), with guitarist and vocalist Miguel completing the trio. Essentially, the group deal in knuckle-dragging / smashed-teeth sludge and crust—the kind that oozes sewage and is as heavy as a funeral. Fans of crawling 90s crustcore will likely dig the grim-faced doom punk vibes here. (And especially if groups like Meth Drinker, Dystopia or Grief appeal.)

Electrozombies’ latest release, Darkness is Rebellion, features seven trampling tracks that run the gamut from low-slung, choking sludge to speedier bursts of harsh and crushing crust. Everything here is drowning in nihilism, and Electrozombies invest plenty of time in crafting ultra-downtuned and distorted riffs to set against throat-slit howls and crashing drums and bass. If you’re a devotee of anvil-heavy punk—the kind that tips its hat to Hellhammer as much as Hellbastard—then Electrozombies’ revolting rhymes will suit you to a T.

Warthog – Warthog Live

Arseholes – PHL 2019

Last year’s self-titled 7” from NYC posse Warthog was yet another instant classic from one of North America’s greatest contemporary hardcore bands. Warthog’s latest release is an 8-song live set recorded in early 2019, and it’s released by Shout Recordings, the label responsible for numerous red-hot Beat Sessions releases. Warthog’s live tracks are all pummeling and propulsive, as you’d expect, and the band sounds even more wired and thrilling in an off-the-chain live setting. However, Warthog still keep things super-tight and razor-sharp, and they make every sledgehammering second count. Fans of ferociously thrashing hardcore will find a lot of love right here.

Speaking of sledgehammering noise, I missed mentioning the latest release from Philadelphia band Arseholes when it was originally unleashed early this year. Still, it’s never too late to talk about the band, which features members from A-grade noise terrorists like Pollen, Neverending Mind War, and Mauser. Arseholes’ PHL 2019 cassette, digital and flexi release is comprised of five songs that are as picturesque as a chainsaw accident, and as pleasant as a picnic in a slaughterhouse. Obviously, those are both huge pluses given the abrasively raw racket that Arseholes specialize in. Forget virtuosity. Embrace volatility. Noise punk nirvana awaits.

Scab Eater – Ultra Vires

Televised Suicide – Territory & Warcycle

Even though the sandy shores of Australia are a hop, skip and jump away from my home nation, I keep closer tabs on what’s happening in the US, Europe, and my homegrown punk scenes. I don’t say that with any pride; that’s a definite failing on my behalf. But I do check in with a few Oz-based labels and distros now and then, and, thankfully, Northern Hemisphere labels release their share of noisy Aussie rockers.

That’s how I stumbled on Melbourne band Scab Eater, because their new Ultra Vires album is a co-release between French label Symphony of Destruction and Australian label No Patience. Scab Eater’s latest breakneck tracks are in-your-face and unrelenting, much like their previous scorching releases. The band have gigs galore and long-ass tours under their hood, but Scab Eater definitely still sound up for a fight on Ultra Vires. The album is chock full of snaggling hooks and snarling songs, but there’s also a clear dedication to the DIY cause on display, which is addictively attractive as well.

Also on my Oz radar this month is Perth-based DIY label and distro Televised Suicide. The label’s got a couple of upcoming heavyweight releases that sound extremely promising: see Warcycle’s fierce crasher crust and Territory’s stadium crust fare below. Before those releases drop, though, Televised Suicide’s got a few 7″ recordings to unleash, including a strident old-school split from Hexx and Shitgrinder. FYI: Televised Suicide is definitely a label to keep a close eye on.

Asid – Pathetic Flesh

Nosferatu – Solution A

La Vida Es Un Mus Discos is one of the most invariably interesting punk labels around. (And with 200 releases under its belt, the label is fairly prolific, too.) I can’t say I’ve enjoyed every release from them—mainly because they’ve released such a broad range of punk, and some of it simply falls outside of my taste range—but the label has already released a couple of LPs guaranteed to turn up on plenty of EOY punk lists at the end of 2019. See Enzyme’s outstanding Howling Mind LP, and Khiis’ ferocious Bezoar full-length. Also in contention are Asid’s Pathetic Flesh LP, and Nosferatu’s recent full-length debut, Solution A.

Pathetic Flesh builds on the rough and ragged promise of Asid’s well-received 2018 demo. Like that recording, this latest release displays a fierce commitment to uncompromising music-making, and Asid make every effort to ramp up the sickness and crudeness from their first LP. Scorching raw punk is fueled by raging riffs and corrosive noise throughout. Bands like Disclose or Framtid get a passing nod, but Asid concentrate on stripping their songs down and tearing the skin off the bone until you’re left with a hideous / glorious bloodbath of maniacal hardcore.

Solution A is the storming first full-length from Texas band Nosferatu, who also happen to deal in zero-bullshit hardcore. Nosferatu’s hard / fast songs echo with the meanest blasts of 80s hardcore. I’ve seen Koro and YDI’s names dropped as reference points a gazillion times, which means you can expect lightning-fast drumming, galloping bass, and a barrage of wall-of-noise riffs and incomprehensible barks. Nosferatu sound wrong, in all the right ways, and not to dismiss their contemporary currency, but the whirlwind racket they create would find favor with fans of pre-Instafame bands like Siege. Nosferatu clearly don’t give a fuck about clickbait appraisals, but they definitely give a shit about crafting resolutely savage songs.

Amhra – Más Allá

I’d never heard of “barbarian crust” horde Amhra before hitting play on the Galicia-based band’s Más Allá debut. Co-released by labels Symphony of Destruction, Abbsurda Existencia, and Phobia Records, Más Allá is heavy as the Sword of Damocles and features gruffer-than-gruff tunes that hit like a nail-spiked baseball bat. After a few creepy crow cries, the storming “Reflejos” kicks things off, with steamrolling tracks like “Salida,” “Fauces” and “Perros” delivering guttural barks, sheet-metal drums and thick, tarnished riffs. Mammoth-sounding metallic crust plays a big role here, but forget any of the spit and polish of trendsetting crustcore. Amhra’s take on crust and d-beat is downbeat, dirty and toxic—definitely not made for fence sitters or fly-by-night flunkies.

Kafka – S/T

The self-titled debut from Greek band Kafka starts out like a fever dream, but the end result is closer to a dark nightmare. Kafka’s intentions certainly aren’t malicious, as such, but their heaving blackened neocrust churns with enough pain and bile to sound remarkably grim in parts. (Of course, like all good cathartic crust, there are also plenty of fist-raising and howling-to-the-moon moments within.) Details about the Patras-based band are scarce—which is fine: music over personalities, every time—but there are clearly well-practiced musicians operating here. Kafka’s debut is confident and promising, which are great components to build on for their next onslaught.

Idiota Civlizzato – Civiltà Idiota

The 2018 full-length debut from multi-national hardcore crew Idiota Civlizzato was recorded in a single late-night session, and it went on to reap abundant underground applause. Blazing back into the frame with four new tracks, Idiota Civlizzato’s Civiltà Idiota EP features a similar mix of electric shock spasms and deviant howls woven into deliriously frenzied hardcore. Never ones to sit still, Idiota Civlizzato sound 100% riled-up on their new ear-splitting songs, which trip and tumble over sharp riffs and spiky vocals wound around pell-mell percussion. Word is, visa issues currently mean Idiota Civlizzato is scattered to the wind. Fingers crossed they reconvene for more fucked-up and frantic endeavors soon.

Absolut – 2019 Demonstration – Denver Edition

Canadian band Absolut are downright revered in raw punk circles. Although, I’m not up to date with the latest punk rock rule book, so maybe it’s a little uncool to acknowledge that fact? I can’t help being chuffed to see Absolut releasing crashing new music, given they’ve disbanded and reformed in recent times and their split with kängpunk kingpins Svaveldioxid in 2017 was a total fucking knockout. Absolut’s new four-song release, 2019 Demonstration – Denver Edition, essentially tells the same ol’ mind-crushing story, which, incidentally, isn’t any kind of problem at all. Salvos of acidic riffs, spitting vocals, and nuclear-powered drums rain down, as per, reaffirming Absolut’s gift for producing concussion-triggering noise that’s worshipped by abrasive punk devotees (like me).

Disclone – Total Kontakt D – Takt Noise Raid

Earth Crust Displacement / Disease – Distort Fucking World

The three noise-makers below sit together fairly nicely, even if there’s nothing remotely nice about the deafening commotion they make. All three bands clearly adore Japanese raw punk icons Disclose, and if you’re au fait with rough-hewn punk, repetitive gum infections, and duct-taping your shoes, then you’ll probably notice that the bands below all exhibit Disclose’s influence differently. That said, you’d also be entirely forgiven if you think all their music sounds like a diarrhea hurricane. One person’s poison is another’s dumpster diving feast, after all.

Ultra-coarse d-beat and good ol’ Noise Not Music™ are what Viennese band Disclone provide. (Obviously, that’s not any big surprise, given the band’s moniker.) I’m a fan of Disclone’s less-than-zero care, polish or compromise approach to… well, not music making, exactly…let’s call it smearing a veneer of rancid noise onto an even more rotting canvas. This time round, Disclone’s latest EP, 4 Trax Total Kontakt D – Takt Noise Raid, pays tribute to more Scandinavian than Japanese influences. However, switching sites of noise punk inspiration doesn’t make a huge amount of difference, given that Disclone’s all-guns-blazing approach ensures that mind-shredding chaos reigns supreme.

Disclose worshippers Disease are based in Macedonia, and their split release compadres, Earth Crust Displacement, are from Germany. Both bands follow a similar noisy d-takt route, which makes their Distort Fucking World split an entirely compatible, albeit still thoroughly ear-fucking, gem. Disease have pumped out something like 18 split and solo releases in the last half dozen years, and their fast and grubby tracks right here stick to their usual raw d-beat + caustic crust formula. Earth Crust Displacement contribute seven massive (and notably acrid) dis-noise tracks, and every one of them is a migraine-inducing inferno. Double the noise. Double the trouble. Double the filth and fun.

Kriegshög –  Paint It Black

S.D.S / Misery – The Future Stay in the Darkness Fog / Pain in Suffering

I was going to wait until Japanese crushers Kriegshög officially released their new Paint it Black 7″ before I wrote a single word about it, but I’m an impatient asshole at the best of times, so I’ve dropped in a teaser clip below. Paint it Black is due out sometime in late June, and knowing my luck, it’ll probably be released about 30 seconds after I publish this blurb.

There are very good reasons to get hyped about Kriegshög’s return—not least because the clip below confirms that they still make some of the grimmest and heaviest d-beat and raw punk around. I’ll have a lot more to say about Paint it Black when it’s officially out, but I don’t mind admitting in advance that I’m ridiculously overexcited about the EP’s impending arrival.

There are even more reasons to get excited about the recent reissuing of S.D.S and Misery’s split, The Future Stay in the Darkness Fog / Pain in Suffering. Originally released in 1992, the recording is a hugely important underground statement, with first press copies now costing an absolute fortune online. Thanks to Profane Existence, original Japanese label MCR Company, and S.D.S and Misery, a remastered and reissued version of the split is now finally available (to the utter delight of fans) close to 30 years after its debut.

Authoritative punk blog Terminal Sound Nuisance has written scores of in-depth analyses of crucial and / or obscure punk releases, and the blog’s rigorous write-ups really are a phenomenal resource. Terminal Sound Nuisance’s lengthy review of S.D.S and Misery’s split argues that it’s “the best split crust LP ever.” (They also goes on to argue that Misery are “the best US crust band ever.”) Obviously, you don’t have to agree with either proposition to simply bathe in a powerhouse example of two definitive crust bands expounding on the subgenre’s preeminent strengths. Twenty-seven years after its release, S.D.S and Misery’s split has lost none of its power. An undeniable crust classic.

Piggery – S/T

Pvnisher – A Private Hell

Before I go, I wanted to mention a couple of recent New Zealand punk releases that definitely fall into ICWT’s noisy orbit. However, before I do that, I also need to make VERY CLEAR that I had a little involvement with both releases via a minuscule DIY label I started this year. Obviously, it would extremely dubious for me to try and sell you on something I had a hand in co-releasing with more established NZ punk labels, but it costs approximately $14.7 billion dollars to ship an LP from NZ to anywhere overseas, so the chances of me selling one here are pretty much zip.

Also, if you did happen to hit the “Buy Digital Album” button on either release below, I don’t benefit in the slightest in that regard, either. (I mean, aside from being stoked you bought some banging NZ punk.)

(Is that enough caveats?)

Honestly, I really just wanted to turn you on to some Southern Hemisphere crust that you might otherwise have missed. (And FYI: if you’re interested, I wrote a feature on NZ punk for Last Rites fairly recently). So, with hype-free and entirely transparent intentions, let me point you to Wellington band Piggery’s self-titled debut, which nods to heavyweight 90s’ crust, stenchcore, and death metal, and tips its hat to bands like Skaven, Hellshock, and Stormcrow.

Also worth your time is the debut 7″ from Wellington duo Pvnisher.  A Private Hell features stripped-down blackened crust, which ticks the red-raw Doom-worship box while paying tribute in front of a crudely constructed alter to Darkthrone. Expect blown-out / feedbacking riffs, growling vocals, and careening percussion—all marinating in a poisonous stew of bitterness and bile.

———

Posted by Craig Hayes

Semi-literate hobgoblin, full-time shark obsessive, old-school nincompoop.

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