Kia ora, comrades. Welcome to In Crust We Trust: Vol 18. I promised I wouldn’t write any more long-winded introductions around here, which is a bit of a struggle given the world’s in flames and there’s a lot to talk about. Still, I’m not going to break my solemn vow. Mainly because you can probably guess the gist of any Dadpunk sermon I’d be delivering at this point in time.
Instead, let me just reiterate that the bands I write about (as well as yours truly) stand in solidarity with the marginalized, persecuted, and the oppressed. Calls to end police brutality, tackle systemic racism, and provide accessible and non-discriminatory healthcare for all are not transient slogans around this neck of the woods; they’re unshakeable demands.
In short: Fuck fascism. Fuck intolerance. And while you’re at it, fuck narrow-minded prejudice too. Here’s to looking out for each other and raising our collective middle fingers to tyrants, bullies, and bigots.
Stay safe. Be well. Enjoy the noise.
LIFE – Ossification of Coral
There’s no way I can even pretend to be impartial writing about crasher crusties LIFE—aka Liberty Independence Freedom Equality—because the Tokyo band simply mean too much to me. Not only are LIFE one of my all-time favorite groups, they’re also an inspiration. LIFE are one of the prime reasons why I still write about loud music, even though most of my grizzled ol’ peers gave up listening to deafening punk and metal years ago. LIFE are the personification of lifers: musicians who’ve ignored social pressures and made genuine sacrifices, all the while remaining committed to delivering uncompromising music.
Since the early 90s, LIFE have been dishing out rotten-sounding, reverb-drenched, politically-charged punk. And if you’re not a fan of the band already, LIFE’s latest album, Ossification of Coral, will make you one in record time. From its first seconds, LIFE’s third full-length spews out untamed raw punk and blown-out crust, all of which radiates amp-melting distortion. Every concussive song on Ossification of Coral is stacked with scything riffs, drums that hit like a baseball bat, and crud-caked bass that sounds like a herd of stampeding wildebeest. Tracks like “To Gain Freedom,” “Leaning Balance,” “Crush Them,” and “Rivers of Filth” are full-bore assaults on the senses, with LIFE mixing Burning Spirits-worthy solos and brutally dissonant crustcore as unhinged growls erupt from within.
(Also included on the album is a HIGH-energy cover of “Same as War,” by much-coveted Japanese crust outfit Abraham Cross. And I’m probably not the only one who’d happily trade a kidney for a 12″ copy of Abraham Cross’ Peace Can’t Combine.)
As always, LIFE’s anti-nuclear / anti-war politics are more than apparent. But so is an environmental message, which, as Ossification of Coral‘s title suggests, expresses grave concerns about the earth’s ravaged ecosystems. Everything you want from LIFE is here: visceral anguish and anger, red-raw instrumentation (including a guitar tone that’ll strip the skin from your bones), and calls to end the abuse of nature and our fellow human beings.
It’s been a while since LIFE’s last full-length, 2013’s phenomenal Violence, Peace and Peace Research, although the band have dropped a few solo and split 7″ releases since then. In any case, Ossification of Coral is a 100% certified ripper crammed with definitive protest punk and consummate Japanese crust. Ossification of Coral is indomitable and impassioned, and even though LIFE are not competitive, I’ll say it anyway: welcome to the best raw punk and crasher crust album of 2020.
(FYI: if Ossification of Coral sparks your interest, you should track down Violence, Peace and Peace Research as well as LIFE’s formidable full-length debut, 1999’s The World Lies Across Them. Then start on the band’s equally intense 7″ releases!)
Geld – Beyond the Floor
Melbourne punks Geld blend off-the-chain musicianship with brain-frying creativity, delivering outré punk that’s simultaneously plugged into the heart of incendiary hardcore. Geld’s second full-length, Beyond the Floor, rides the line between mind-blowing, mind-expanding, and mind-crushing, and Geld’s inspirations—“pills, meth, booze, weed, DMT, hate, betrayal, fear, love, depression, addiction, denial, and broken bones”—all boil in the album’s schizophrenic core.
Throughout Beyond the Floor, bleeding-raw shards of noise and pyrotechnic d-beat insanity fuel throat-ripping audio violence. Kicked-in-the-teeth hardcore powers “Infrasound,” “Invader,” and “Red Mist,” which is matched by blistering-fast psychedelic punk powering “Trench,” “Gedankenfleish” and “L.O.W.A.G. II.” Geld fuse hallucinogenic happenings to outright berserker free-for-alls, and the result is as ear-splitting as it is acid-spiked: think Confuse covering Poison Idea covering Les Razilles Denudes covering Krömosom. (Actually, I once saw Geld described as Disclose deconstructing free jazz, which works well too.)
Beyond the Floor is weirder, wilder, and somehow even tighter than Geld’s previous releases—which, FYI, are unrestrained paranoiac nightmares too. Geld perfectly blend breathless experimentalism with gut-punching hardcore, and all the barely corralled chaos on Beyond the Floor is a genre-trampling triumph. Highly recommended. 10/10.
Subdued – Over the Hills and Far Away
Over the Hills and Far Away is the bruising full-length debut from London punks Subdued. The LP follows on from Subdued’s excellent Torment & Torture demo, and even better 4 Track EP, and like those releases, Over the Hills and Far Away exudes authenticity. Amebix, Antisect, and Killing Joke get a nod right here, as well as plenty of 80s anarcho and peace punk inspirations. Subdued’s atmospheric balladry also thrums with bone-chilling crust and hardcore, and while Over the Hills and Far Away is the band’s most polished work thus far, Subdued hang on tight to the raw anger and anguish that underscored their earlier releases.
Over the Hills and Far Away is restless and relentless, evoking ghostly, windswept moors as much as crumbling cities and shattered hopes and dreams. Subdued’s grim yet cathartic tales feature a sublime mix of seething volatility and poetic yearning, all tightly wound with gothic tension. Over the Hills and Far Away is an impressive release. Tense, tough, and liberating.
The Soft Pink Truth – Am I Free to Go?
The Soft Pink Truth is a solo project helmed by Drew Daniel, who plays in the acclaimed experimental and electronic duo Matmos. You might recognize The Soft Pink Truth’s name from a few years back when a number of black metal fans got their knickers in a twist following the release of The Soft Pink Truth’s magnificently rabble-rousing LP, Why Do the Heathen Rage? (still the best black metal album cover art ever, btw). Daniel’s “unrequited love letter” to black metal was a “gleeful queer” exploration of the sub-genre’s obsessions, featuring eccentric electronic and dancefloor interpretations of tracks from Darkthrone, Venom, Mayhem, Sarcofago and more.
The Soft Pink Truth’s latest release, Am I Free to Go?, covers songs from the world of crust punk. Although, I doubt many crust fans will be put out by Am I Free to Go?. (There’s no kvlt krust hotline to call in case anyone dares to toy with a few deep cuts.) Much like Why Do the Heathen Rage?, Daniel’s decision to filter crust punk through a new conceptual lens on Am I Free to Go? is the result of his genuine love of the sub-genre, and that’s readily apparent. Warped beats, rave-friendly synths, sexy pop glitches and strange electronic twitches reconfigure tracks from Discharge, Disclose, Totalitär, Aus-Rotten, Gloom, Doom and more. Everything is uninhibited and wildly imaginative, and in a time when bleak tidings threaten to overwhelm us, Am I Free to Go? is a hell of a lot of exorcising fun.
Bulk Bogan – Suplex
The grinding powerviolence of Aotearoa New Zealand duo Bulk Bogan also leeches sludge, screamo, hardcore, and a gazillion other blast-beaten and psych-scouring strains of gruesome noise. Guitarist and vocalist Fluffy, and vocalist and drummer Mark, have dialed up the obliterating urgency—and their genre-boundary-ignoring intensity—on the Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) band’s second full-length, Suplex. The duo’s latest whirlwind tracks flash by at warp-speed, with Bulk Bogan digging into addiction, mental illness, and life’s hard-hitting catastrophes as the ominous shadow of unsustainable hyper-capitalism looms overhead.
Hard-bitten subterranean sludge is diced with bursts of pulverizing hardcore on opener “Minotaur” (which dissects bullheaded toxic masculinity via a “fantastical lens”), while “Don’t Touch My Shit,” “Small Dick Lethargy,” and “Negative Outcome” feature barbwire-wrapped explosions of crashing and smashing crossover noise. Elsewhere, “Problem” injects cranked/crazed components into aberrant post-punk, and “Shit Eating Grin” slams grimy noise-rock headfirst into crushing grindcore.
Bulk Bogan cram a lot of twists ‘n’ turns and juddering pivots into their (primarily) breakneck tracks. Tortured howls and bulldozing instrumentation plow furious furrows, and Bulk Bogan carve out cathartic, albeit frenetic, escape routes from the ever-ratcheting psychological pressures of modernity. Suplex provides a wholly positive purge via utterly negative noise, which is precisely what we all need in these troubled times.
Parasit – Samhällets Paria
Samhällets Paria is the third full-length LP from Swedish five-piece Parasit. Much like the band’s previous releases, Samhällets Paria is packed to the gunnels with first-class, classic Scandi crust. Expect giant brass-knuckled riffs, thundering drums from Valhalla’s halls, and gravel-gargling howls galore. The buzzsaw guitar tone that erupts in Samhällets Paria‘s first seconds is all killer—and remains lacerating throughout—while propulsive bass and all-guns-blazing solos make up the roll call of other tempting treats. Parasit includes members from Asocial, Uncurbed, and Retaliation, so it’s no surprise the band’s adept at writing furious yet always engaging songs. Fun fact: Samhällets Paria is Parasit’s best work yet. Top-grade crust for fans of colossal hooks and chest-pounding, grime-infested, 100% Swedish hardcore! Oosh. Oomph. Argh. Andgrrrrrr.
Cadenaxo – Lenguas Podridas
I owe another debt of thanks to Sorry State Records’ weekly newsletter for turning me on to Tenochtitlan, Mexico band Cadenaxo. (FYI, you should sign up, Sorry State’s weekly digest is filled with great writing and recommendations, highlighting stacks of new and classic punk releases.) Cadenaxo’s Lenguas Podridas 12″ is catchy as hell and it features utterly intoxicating hardcore anthems. A lot of Lenguas Podridas reminds me of groups like Vaaska, Ojo Por Ojo, and Impalers (and even old school heroes Atoxxxico), with giant riffs and shouted vocals driven hard by d-beat’s volatility and velocity. Cadenaxo’s nuclear-powered momentum is as urgent as it is infectious, and there’s plenty of heat and intensity rising off tracks like “Mundo Restringido,” “Son Veneno” and “Manual Policiaco”. Fast. Fun. And pumped full of ridiculously explosive energy. As mentioned, catchy as hell, and goddamn hot as Hell too.
Grave New World – The Last Sanctuary
New York label Bitter Lake Recordings specializes in reissuing long-lost recordings from the Japanese punk and metal underground. The label’s upcoming reissue of Tokyo band Grave New World’s sole release, 1992’s The Last Sanctuary, is an absolute coup for Bitter Lake. The LP is one of crust punk’s most coveted and distinctive releases, with Grave New World featuring members from cult outfits like Asbestos, Crow, Last Bomb, and Crisis Kill. Grave New World only existed for a few short years, but rather than being another Amebix knock-off (or dishing out more oft-heard Discore), the band headed off-piste, traversing challenging and often far more psychedelic terrain.
Sadly, The Last Sanctuary didn’t receive much applause on release. Scant copies of the album were pressed, and The Last Sanctuary would have been forgotten if not for the internet granting access to previously obscure and eccentric punk releases. These days, The Last Sanctuary is rightly recognized as a brave, albeit notably unconventional release. As is often the case, it simply took time for the rest of the world to catch up to Grave New World. And is also often the case, Grave New World were long gone by the time the rest of the world caught up.
If you want to read an in-depth account of Grave New World’s brief reign, check out the excellent Dawning of an Era: Tokyo’s Grave New World and When Death Came Along feature published by go-to webzine Negative Insight. Don’t forget to hit play on the 12-minute acid-drenched “The End” below. The track will happily reorder your neurons – and upend your expectations.
Carradine Choke – Planet Fatigue
Planet Fatigue is the first full-length album from Aotearoa New Zealand punks Carradine Choke, and it’s a big step up from the band’s debut EP, Dead City Vomit. The Ōtautahi (Christchurch) band recorded Planet Fatigue at legendary local haunt Nightshift Studios, and the album features outstanding cover art from NZ punk musician and artist Sam Ovens. Out via Christchurch’s Dust Up Records (home to top-notch releases from Zhukov, Nervous Jerk, and Catsick), Planet Fatigue is heavily influenced by UK82, which isn’t too surprising, given Carradine Choke has a few long-serving and dyed-in-the-wool punks in the ranks.
Essenitally, if you love the shout-along endeavors of the second wave of UK hardcore—you know, the exploits of The Exploited, G.B.H, and Chaos UK and kin—then you’ll likely enjoy Carradine Choke’s rough-as-guts songs too. Carradine Choke attack Planet Fatigue‘s rowdy tracks with single-minded zeal, with some, like “Squat the Red Zone,” “Parasites,” and “Germs,” being breakneck anthems stacked with stabbing riffs, and others, like “Suburban Slum Dance” and “Scrum Buddies” tearing along on giant bass-driven hooks.
Every track here features throat-wrecking vocals, thrashing guitars, and thumping bass and drums. It’s a reckless, raw and unpolished concoction—with some of its bite torn from the template of early US hardcore—and if you’re on the hunt for old-school, spitting, snarling, and ragged punk, then Planet Fatigue will be right up your alley. Think urban decay, grotty streets, and abundant black-humored attitude. Think beers, pills, fists, boots, and stitches—and plenty of fucking sore heads. Great stuff, all round.
Puro Odio – S/T
It’s great to see the two-song, self-titled EP from masked misanthropes Puro Odio getting a re-release via monstrous (and always on-point) Oakland label Sentient Ruin Laboratories. Puro Odio fit right in with the label’s roster of deviant music-makers, with the Basque band’s nihilism situated front and center on their EP, which was initially self-released in 2019. Puro Odio’s MO primarily consists of shoving barbed US hardcore down the throat of primitive UK punk. And then the band boil the result in a vat of G.I.S.M.-juice. Before slathering it with rough-hewn, Hellhammer-like crudity.
Two short songs aren’t much to work with, but it’s clear that Puro Odio’s main interests lie in the conveyance of filth and inhumanity. The band’s noxious songs spit venom and contempt, with their harsh vocals and chainsawing guitars ground up by gnarled d-beat and assailed by raw black metal. (Think early Darkthrone + a shit-ton of methamphetamine covering Broken Bones.) The good news is, Sentient Ruin have promised more “sonic bile” from Puro Odio very soon. Tune in if the virulent primitivism of Ritual Knife, Utzalu, and Bone Awl is a turn on.
Bombardement – EP.
The new 4-song EP. from Bordeaux band Bombardement follows the same fleet-footed and skull-hammering trajectory as their 2019 self-titled LP. The band dispense earth-quaking d-beat and wall-shaking hardcore backed by new vocalist Oriane’s dynamic howls. Ridiculously catchy tracks like “Blood. Cash. Self-Destruction,” “Abyssal Grave,” and “Summoning Flames” are cut with sky-rocketing solos—and they hit like a runaway truck—while the rollicking “My Own Satan” features a punchy pub-rock vibe that calls to mind the best work of Amyl and the Sniffers.
Bombardement’s stampeding new EP is a whale of a time from its first seconds to its last. The band sound even more lively and inspired than they did on their fired-up LP, and Bombardement’s new tracks exude all the throttling riffs, breakneck drums, and scorching vocals you could ever desire. Even better, Bombardement sound like they’re having a total blast here, and the sweet Dark Lord knows we need all the high-speed and high-spirited punk we can get right now. More, please! ASAP!
Mass Extinction – Never-Ending Holocaust
New Jersey duo Mass Extinction have one foot firmly placed in both the grindcore and crust punk camps. The band also have a strong vegan message to convey, with their Never-Ending Holocaust full-length essentially being a “sonic animal rights manifesto.” Topics like laboratory testing and animal mistreatment, exploitation, and the myriad brutal practices of industrial farming are all tackled. But Mass Extinction also note the intersectionality of suffering and extend their sympathies to also include human beings wounded by senseless pain and trauma.
If you’re not concerned with animal rights, Never-Ending Holocaust still works well as an unvarnished and unrelenting maelstrom of crust-caked grindcore. Of course, Mass Extinction do have a passionate message to deliver, namely, “The more helpless the victim, the greater the crime.” The band mix soundbites from notable animal rights activists with enraged, albeit often incomprehensible, vocals (don’t worry, lyrics are provided) while pulverizing riffs and programmed drums collide at hyperspeed pace. Passivity is not an option for Mass Extinction, and that’s captured in the uncompromising intensity of their music, as well as the fervency of their message. Fans of Extreme Noise Terror, Disrupt, Cattle Decapitation, and Napalm Death will find a lot to unpack and enjoy here.