Last Rites is currently running a 10-part series highlighting 100 essential metal albums from the past decade. I decided to wedge myself into the conversation by volunteering to write this two-part feature, which explores a couple of dozen (or so) essential crust punk releases from the past 10 years. Almost immediately, though, I had a sinking feeling in my guts, and that’s not just because I’m guaranteed to embarrass myself by forgetting to mention a raft of obvious releases.
The biggest hurdle I really face is that ‘crust’ is such an unreliable descriptor these days. In crust’s primordial years, groups like Amebix, Antisect, Hellbastard, Doom, and Deviated Instinct clearly staked out the sub-genre’s parameters. Creative boundaries were more distinct, more concrete, and stenchcore and / or crustcore were easily defined.
But then the internet arrived, and musicians from every corner of the globe soon had instant access to a far wider range of aesthetic influences, and crust was subsequently reshaped and recast.
Obviously, definitive or classic Mad Max 2-worshipping crust and stenchcore bands still abound. But since around the turn of the millennium, crust has been undergoing a personality crisis. By the time the ’10s rolled around, which is the period this two-part feature covers, dividing lines had been thoroughly blurred and crust was redefined.
Crust means something very different today than it did back in the day, and the tag is now affixed to a much broader range of gruff bands with distorted guitars and penchants for conjuring apocalyptic scenes. (And I’m 100% guilty of using ‘crust’ to describe a feel as much as a firm set of signifiers these days too.)
Crust is also hipper than ever, and some punk and metal bands clearly slather it on in a calculating fashion. Many bands mix crust with half-a-dozen other sub-genres, until crust is just one of many colors on their putrid-sounding creative palette. Plus, the output of scores of contemporary ‘crust’ groups could just as easily be labeled raw punk, d-beat, kängpunk, death metal, blackened hardcore… you get the point.
Definition issues aside, there’s another glaring hurdle to overcome when trying to compile a list of essential crust releases—namely, Jesus fucking Christ, there are thousands of potential albums to choose from!
The biggest crust releases aren’t necessarily the best to highlight, but obscurity is no guarantee of quality either. Personally, I prefer six-feet-underground shitnoise over polished recordings, but it’s clear that plenty of beefed-up and high-profile crust releases have resonated with umpteen fans over the past decade.
In fact, let’s take a look at some of those big releases from the ’10s:
You’ve got Amebix’s dramatic albeit divisive return on Sonic Mass (2011), Wolfbrigade’s furiously throttling Damned (2012), Martyrdod’s well-received Elddop (2014), and Tragedy’s storming Fury (2018) or Darker Days Ahead (2012). Let’s not forget Nux Vomica’s self-titled and emotionally-charged final album (2014), Agrimonia’s soul-stirring Rites of Separation (2013), Dishammer’s sought-after Under the Sign of the D-Beat Mark (2010), Victims’ scorching Sirens LP (2016), and all the other popular crust releases that ticked the heavy (✓), harsh (✓), and hostile-sounding (✓) boxes.
All those releases above secured comparatively larger crossover audiences, and some of them contributed to the continuing evolution of crust. Are any of those releases above essential? Well, I guess if they hit home hard enough. But more importantly, all those releases probably served as crucial gateways into far murkier punk realms for some listeners.
In the end, all lists are subjective and reductive and it’s impossible to distill a decade’s worth of deafening crust down to a handful of releases. What I can do, though, is highlight a raft of essential releases that’ll hopefully encourage anyone who’s curious to dig a little deeper.
So that’s what I’m going to do, and here are my criteria:
- If it sounds crusty, it’s up for consideration or inclusion.
- That’s it.
- I’m also going to add a “Like ↑ try →” note at the end of every blurb so I can shove more recommendations down your gullet.
One last reminder, before things get too loud: the last decade of crust has seen a once-specific sub-genre bleed into countless others like never before. Keep that in mind, because the gathering of essential crust releases below ranges far and wide.
The Essentials: Part 1
LIFE – Violence, Peace, and Peace Research (2013)
No question, Tokyo band LIFE (a.k.a. Liberty Independence Freedom Equality) are the greatest crust group this world has ever seen. Since 1992, LIFE have been dishing out visceral recordings and more than a few of them are veritable crust classics. LIFE’s rampaging 2013 album, Violence, Peace and Peace Research, reeked of rot and decay and saw the band combining caveman crust with vintage stenchcore, Burning Spirits-like hardcore, and all sorts of bleeding-raw noise. Violence, Peace and Peace Research is as essential as essential gets, featuring formidable and altogether flawless filth.
Like ↑ try → Japanese band Ulcer’s genius Vandalism LP (2017), which is also crawling with foul and feral crust (and a heavy helping of Killing Joke-worthy industrial clangor). See also: the chainsawing mayhem found on Isterismo’s 2011 (and wholly crushing) compilation, Tokyo Crusties.
War//Plague – On a Darker Dawn (2012)
I’d wholeheartedly recommend you listen to everything Minneapolis crust veterans War//Plague have recorded thus far. But I’m picking the band’s 2012 LP, On a Darker Dawn, as your first essential port of call, mainly because it hit me like a runaway truck. War//Plague seamlessly incorporate neck-wrecking US, UK, and Japanese punk influences, which they inject with plenty of socio-political passion. On On a Darker Dawn, the band had a foot in the crashing ’90s crust and heavyset ’00s metallic hardcore camps. The album’s bruising physicality comprised gruff vocals, gruffer riffs, and amp-melting distortion—all backed by War//Plague’s stalwart defense of the victims of hyper-capitalism.
Like ↑ try → War//Plague’s well-regarded split releases with the likes of Warwound (2017), Vastation (2015), and Police Bastard (2011). See also: US crust band Wartorn, who share a similar air-raid-siren assaultiveness to War//Plague. Wartorn’s 2012 LP, Iconic Nightmare, is a more-than-solid place to start.
Cancer Spreading – Ghastly Visions (2016)
Ghastly Visions was aptly titled, with the stampeding 2016 full-length from Italian stenchcore heroes Cancer Spreading filled with nihilistic communiqués wrapped around hellish grinding noise. Down-tuned death metal collided with guttural old school crust, and Cancer Spreading further mutilated things with the bloody clawhammer of heavyweight hardcore. System smashing chaos + self-destructive madness = maelstrom sonic mayhem. See within for mammoth tracks comprising Neanderthal noise that stinks of squalor and decay.
Like ↑ try → Amhra’s 2019 Más Allá debut, which featured breathtakingly heavy barbarian crust mixed with red-raw black metal. Or try Masakari’s anvil-heavy The Profit Feeds (2010), which sounds like a destructive free-for-all to this day.
Disturd – Dark (2015)
Every release thus far from indomitable Japanese titans Disturd has been a mind-mangling treat. The band’s 2011 Isolation… EP was a crustcore tour de force, but I’m pointing to Disturd’s 2015 12″, Dark, as your essential starting point. Dark saw chugging and churning troglodyte crust rain down hard as Disturd clawed their way across murky soundscapes. Dark featured plenty of S.D.S and Antisect worship, but that’s stock-standard for plenty of hulking Japanese crust bands. What’s important to note is that Disturd evoked all the intimidating darkness and menacing intensity of the best crustcore of yore, without succumbing to any uninspired mimicry.
Like ↑ try → Death Dust Extractor’s magnificent/decimating 2013 7″, Chainsaw Mayhem, which couldn’t be more fittingly titled. Or try fellow Japanese crusties Avvikelsse’s full-bore self-titled EP from 2016.
Visions of War – Swine Parade (2014)
As the oft-quoted saying goes, Visions of War make an abrasive racket akin to an enormous door slamming in the depths of hell. The band’s corrosive Swine Parade compilation was a crushing 2-for-1 combo that collected Visions of War’s 2011 full-length, Shit Parade, and their 2013 album, King of Swines. The long-running Belgian crusties specialize in cacophonous tracks ripe with the heady odor and mangling momentum of Ye Olde bulldozing crust. Swine Parade‘s grisly songs duly slithered from the depths of desolation, with grotesque riffs and vocals battering nerves and shattering eardrums. Beautifully ugly and welcoming concussive crust.
Like ↑ try → Visions of War’s 2017 split with veteran UK trash/crust kings Hellkrusher is all killer and no filler. And while you’re there, you might as well make time to track down Hellkrusher’s high-powered 2017 LP, Human Misery.
Asocial Terror Fabrication – Under the Dark Force (2010)
Tokyo band Asocial Terror Fabrication deal in antediluvian stenchcore – at least, they did on their writhing 2010 7″, Under the Dark Force. ATF’s rotten-to-the-core crust will sate anyone rightly obsessed with Abraham Cross’ instant classic 12″ Peace Can’t Combine. Echoes of ’80s crust ring loud on Under the Dark Force, with ATF offering clear nods to the influence of Doom, Deviated Instinct, early Extreme Noise Terror and Napalm Death. Raw and pulverizing riffs, hoarse howls, and a pitch-black cavernous production mean Under the Dark Force delivers subterranean crust that carves deep trenches filled with filthy, funereal noise.
Like ↑ try → ATF’s colossal 2018 split with Instinct of Survival is also well worth tracking down. Plus, check out Kaltbruching Acideath (who feature ATF’s drummer in the ranks). The band’s 2017 Aural Carnage EP is a belter, and their 2019 split with Zygome is an absolute mind-crusher.
Putrefaction – Bloodcult (2012)
Putrefaction – Scavenger (2015)
It’s pointless trying to decide whether Dublin band Putrefaction’s 2012 Bloodcult LP is any better than its equally annihilating 7″ follow-up, 2015’s Scavenger. (Pro tip: grab ’em both, they’re phenomenal.) Putrefaction’s gruesome and gloom-ridden punk mixes d-beat, stenchcore, and mammoth Stormcrow/Hellshock-esque crust with Repulsion-like death metal. Putrefaction’s sledgehammering tracks offer up graveled vocals, pounding drums, and eviscerating guitars, all of which underscore just how brutal a heated collision of hard-hitting hardcore and atavistic extreme metal can get. Bloodcult and Scavenger are as heavy as collapsing buildings, and they’re full-throttle excursions into world-ending devastation. Perfect post-apocalyptic crust.
Like ↑ try → Disguise’s incredible 2015 LP, Signs of the Future, which is one the most blown-out and brutally impressive punk releases to ever emerge from Ireland’s shores. See also: Disguise’s System Shock 7″, from 2014, and their Bas Fada 7″, from 2019, both feature more ultra-explosive hardcore.
Contagium – Archaic (2010)
Stagnation – 2027 (2016)
I flipped a coin to decide whether to highlight Canadian band Contagium’s full-length debut, 2010’s Archaic, or their strident 2012 self-titled 7″, which is equally impressive. Archaic had a rawness, crudeness, and a jackhammering authenticity that tapped right into the sound and, most importantly of all, feel of late-’80s crustcore. A deadly combination of harsh nihilism and ill-omened bleakness was delivered via Contagium’s primitive stenchcore and grinding death metal, which was expertly balanced to maximize its sonic and thematic heaviness. Perfectly toxic metalpunk.
Stagnation also dealt in earth-shattering bad news on their 2027 EP, which was originally recorded in 2008 but not released until 2014 (on tape) and 2016 (on vinyl). Stagnation were also expert at gauging how to mix old school crusty death metal with new school punk and hardcore – executing faultlessly crushing tracks in the process. File 2027 alongside the work of crust metal giants like Stormcrow and Sanctum. Note: back in the day, Stagnation were also cited as a Fenriz-approved ‘Band of the Week’.
Like ↑ try → German band Discommand’s 2018 LP, Hell is Here, which also hit like an artillery barrage and was full of super-heavyweight death metal and super-scuzzy crust. That’s also what Finnish band Disapprove delivered on their 2019 release, Devastation, which combined guttural d-beat, crustcore, and teeth-rattling metal lashed by distortion.
Kriegshög – S/T (2010)
Zyanose – Why There Grieve? (2013)
I’m placing Kriegshög’s 2010 self-titled debut alongside Zyanose’s 2013 Why There Grieve? LP because they’re both obnoxious masterpieces rightly revered by punks and noiseniks alike. Kriegshög’s legendary self-titled full-length ground up crust’s influence in a distorted-to-fuck eruption, which also featured plenty of blown-out d-beat, raw hardcore, and explosive noise punk. Kriegshög’s full-length debut was unhinged and untamed, with its buzzing riffs and tyrannical drumming tearing into reverb-drenched vocals. 100% ESSENTIAL.
Osaka “crusher crusties” Zyanose ended their career at the tail end of 2019, and I can’t imagine many bands will ever get close to bettering Zyanose’s whirlwind mix of bass-driven/sanity-shredding crust, noise, and raw punk. The band’s 2013 LP, Why There Grieve?, was ultra-abrasive and thus ultra-challenging, offering up withering levels of bombarding chaos, plus audio self-destruction hitherto unheard. Maximum disorder, maximum disarray, total masochist magic.
Like ↑ try → Contrast Attitude’s 2018 12 Track Compilation, which gathered a raft of the much-loved Japanese raw crust crew’s previous recordings. You’ll also find violent torrents of crust-caked d-beat and raw punk on D-clone’s celebrated 2012 LP, Creation and Destroy.
Stormcrow / Coffins – S/T Split (2010)
Stormcrow’s influence on contemporary crust is incalculable. The band’s renowned splits with groups like Skaven, MassGrave, and Sanctum are legendary for good reason, not to mention Stormcrow’s Enslaved in Darkness EP, which, 15 years after its release, has lost none of its devastating impact, authority or potency.
Sadly, all of those releases also fall outside the timeframe for this 2010s essentials list. But Stormcrow’s magnificent 2010 split with Japanese death metal icons Coffins sneaks over the line. What a formidable meeting of minds it is too. Two bands who’ve inspired such a long line of heavyweight crust and death metal groups joining forces on an EP that was clearly forged in steel and resounds with power and prowess to this day. Monolithic crust and primitive death metal creep and crawl through fathomless, doom-drenched caverns. Staggeringly impressive. And rightly considered a crust punk and death metal classic.
Like ↑ try → Seattle metalpunks Sanctum, who are as impressively heavy and influential as Stormcrow. Label Black Konflik Records released a thundering compendium of Sanctum’s work in 2016 on Sanctum – 2005-2008. Also in the ESSENTIAL listening category is Femacoffin’s self-titled 7″, from 2014, which sees ex-Stormcrow members delivering punishing crust that evokes Stormcrow’s early years.
Swordwielder – Grim Visions of Battle (2013)
I could have picked Swordwielder’s triumphant 2019 LP, System Overlord, as their most essential release. However, I went with the Gothenburg stenchcore band’s 2013 LP, Grim Visions of Battle, because it was such an epic and all-conquering debut. Swordwielder fused the heaviest and filthiest components they could scour from the sewers of punk and metal, and Grim Visions of Battle‘s massive-sounding tracks were gruffer-than-gruff and tougher-than-tough. Grim Visions of Battle called to mind forsaken scenes made all the more intimidating by Swordwielder’s use of grim and gloomy atmospherics. Truly colossal crustcore.
Like ↑ try → Claustrophobia’s 2013 release, Sobre las Ruinas de la Civilizacion, which saw the misanthropic Argentinian band plowing a similarly grim path through chasms of subterranean stenchcore. Dig Claustrophobia? Try fellow Argentinian band Ruinas, who released a down-tuned and slow-motion self-titled album full of catastrophic crust in 2016.
Akrasia – First Demons – Birth of the Void (2018)
Norwegian punks Akrasia fuse nerve-shredding crust and psychedelic space rock, and then they batter the lot with Hellhammer’s raw metal mallet. Akrasia ingested a potent dose of Amebix-via-Hawkwind shrooms on their 2018 LP, First Demons – Birth of the Void, which featured anarchic tracks and dirge-laden riffs purpose-built for fans of celestial journeying and far-flung havens of villainy. Interstellar nightmares were fueled by down-and-dirty atmospherics, with Akrasia’s guttural growls and harsh and heavy crust conjuring all manner of cosmic and terrestrial horrors.
Like ↑ try → Oakland band Bädr Vogu, who also offer a different take on heavyweight crust. Bädr Vogu’s criminally underrated 2011 LP, Exitium, mixed blues-drenched hardcore, gutter crust, and doom and sludge metal.
Fragment – In the Dust (2017)
Genogeist – S/T (2019)
Canadian band Fragment utilize ear-splitting crasher crust to get their negative noise and ill-tempered message across. But like a lot of rowdy underground punk bands these days, Fragment’s songs feature just as much raw punk, d-beat, and cauterizing hardcore. Fragment’s 2017 full-length, In the Dust, was a skull-rattling riot where metal-tipped riffs and reverb-drenched madness punched through walls of feedbacking pandemonium. Crustgasmic corruption awaits.
Genogeist’s 2018 demo promised great things, and holy shit did the band’s self-titled 2019 LP more than deliver. Genogeist’s post-apocalyptic cyber-crust evokes S.D.S and Effigy, and the PDX band’s thundering full length featured rip-roaring stenchcore loaded with full-bore bass, lacerating guitars, and distortion-smashed vocals. Genogeist’s prophetic visions and dissident artistry were fueled by pummeling punk that was perfectly rendered and perfectly suited to these end times. Exceptional.
Like ↑ try → New York band Extended Hell, who also mixed a raft of noisy subterranean sub-genres on their much-heralded (and 666% essential) 2019 album, Mortal Wound. Expect Totalitär’s fierceness mixed with Framtid’s intensity and insanity.
That’s it for In Crust We Trust: 2010s Essentials – Part 1. I’ll see you soon with part 2, which features more albums from around the world, plenty of young and old bands, and a deafening mix of traditional and atypical crust. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something to enjoy!!