History is important. Some old guy whose name I forgot* once said something about how those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, which is one of the few reasons I’m pretty happy that I don’t remember ever winning the lottery.
Back then, what we now know as grindcore was still young, a hyperactive kid moving past its hardcore and thrashcore roots into a primal fury that was the fastest, loudest, craziest thing on the block. In Jönköping, Sweden, a band called Gravida Anker (which apparently means “pregnant ducks”) was building on the foundations laid by hardcore bands across the world, later incorporating Napalm Death’s pioneering cacophony. In 1985, they shortened their name to the much catchier G-Anx. On a similar trajectory 390ish kilometers to the northeast, Filthy Christians began life as a hardcore punk band, but also taking influence from Napalm Death and Heresy and the British grind scene of the day, they ramped up the intensity.
What matters most is where the twain did meet, which is here, on this split-7 in 1988, the first appearance by either band (although members of Filthy Christians had appeared earlier on an EP by hardcore outfit Protes Bengt). On side A, G-Anx is the more traditional crusty hardcore outfit of the two, a fuzzed-out ra-punk fury, guitars that sound like they were recorded on a boombox and a subterranean bass tone beneath raw-throated barks. Moments flirt with a midtempo pace, but for the most part, these five tunes are comprised almost entirely of bouncy crustcore. Plus, there’s a song called “Chicken Fuck,” which, along with the whole ducks thing, makes you wonder a bit about what these guys are doing to the poor birds up there.
For Side B, Filthy Christians hews closer to a proto-grind explosion, thicker in tone and stouter of production than the käng-y clang of G-ANX, and amped up to the next level, blastbeats and dueling screams that sit way back in the mix, even more menacing in that apparent distance. Incongruously jangly cleans punctuate the chaos of “Vaktmästar Jazz (Olle P),” an oddity that serves to break up the madness a bit and sounds as out of place as it.. well, as it sounds. The metallic riffing of “Another Metal Band” is the closest Filthy Christians comes to a more traditional metal sound, although even then they resort of bursts of grinding between the thrashier moments. The blistering burst of “Skate Or Die” closes out the whole thing, twenty-five-ish seconds of skate-punk-grind glory.
Remastered in 2021 as part of this reissue plan (which was apparently fifteen years in the making), this split sounds better than it did, although – and no offense to mastering engineer Carl Saff here – sonic clarity is not exactly the point. The point is intensity, passion, aggression, and there’s more than enough of that to carry the day. Thanks to the kind folks at Armageddon Label – whose own outfit Dropdead was directly influenced by this split way back in Ye Olden Days – now this semi-legendary split can end up in the grubby mitts of those of us who weren’t in Sweden in 1988 (or anywhere near it), or who weren’t lucky or diligent enough to find one of the original pressings floating about since then.
Sometimes certain parts of history definitely shouldn’t be forgotten, and need to be revisited repeatedly.
* I kid, I kid. It was the famous General George Santa Anna who said that right before he attacked a Texas car rental place that was defended by John Wayne and Dennis Quaid.