Punk and metal didn’t really saw eye to eye back in the day. Promiscuity is rarely the norm among subcultures in the beginning. Motörhead’s “Overkill” is essential if one desires to understand where Britain’s hardcore sound comes from, and NWOBHM in general owns a lot to punk, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that one group mingled a lot with the other. It says little about how scenes came and went and who belonged where.
Then came bands like Hellhammer with their primitive lo-fi black & roll/metal punk (which, truth be told, a lot of metal people hated in the 80s) and Amebix, who united the bridge separating metal and punk. Things are not this linear (they rarely are), but hopefully you get the picture.
Nowadays punks, metalheads, crusties, hard rockers, ravers and the bunch all socialize with one another. And that’s a good thing. As a result there are underground hardcore punks playing lead guitar solos more commonly associated with psychedelic (downright hippie!) rock, and headbangers with a knack for the electronic. It’s a brave new world.
This episode is once again for all you open-minded metal people. Enjoy the noise.
Click for show notes and a complete tracklist.
We’re starting out with the outlier. A Hank Williams’ original, “I Saw the Light” is the classic country gospel track about religion and redemption. In retrospective it actually fits quite well with the overall theme of the episode (we didn’t’ really plan ahead haha). This is a version by Bill Monroe, but what really gets us every time is the dude shouting “GET ON YOUR KNEES AND PRAY” at the end. He does it twice too if you pay attention. Doesn’t really sound like he’s suggesting it either; bastard is ordering you to do it! Well, fuck you buddy! And fuck punk rock, apparently. That’s pretty much what Rudimentary Peni suggests in 1983’s “Rotten to the Core”. It is common knowledge that hardcore is in many ways a reaction to the “first wave” of punk music. Just like second wave black metal came to be as a reaction against late 80s/early 90s death metal.
Anal Cunt… the name says it all. “Je Suis Charlie” type, are you? Just check these guys: they didn’t stop at nothing to add insult to injury. According to Anal Cunt, everything is gay: recycling is gay; technology is gay; pottery is gay; and we’re pretty sure Anal Cunt would blame gays of being gay. It’s one of those “Beavis and Butthead rock” bands that sometimes hardcore/grindcore gets in your face. It would be easy to dispel these guys as a one-time joke, but the fact of the matter is: “I Like It When You Die” is one hell of a grindcore album (originally it was supposed to be called “You’re Gay”… but of course), and “You’re a Cop” has one of the most infectious, mosh-provoking riffs we have ever heard. There’s also a lot of irony to appreciate here. Seth Putnam, the ringleader, spent some time in a coma after he OD’ed on heroin – an experience he considered as being “gay” -, nine years after he wrote “You’re in a Coma” for this record. And there’s also that 1997 review from Sputnik Music where they commented on the “inhuman psycho screaming and bellowing growls that make you wonder why the vocalist, Seth Putnam, hasn’t passed out and died of a heart attack”. Well, Seth Putnam actually passed out and died of a heart attack.
Moving on. Oil and water do not mix, and you can’t have noise without Japanese hardcore, so here you go: the fucking GREAT Zouo. They only managed to get one album out there, but we’re pretty sure Zouo are masters of their domain. We’re going along with “Making Love With The Devil” from their cult masterpiece 7” EP, “The Final Agony”.
Here are two more Japanese tracks, this time from the new wave of crust/noise-core bands. First there’s Death Dust Extractor, with an untitled track from 2009’s “Slay Your Masters or Slave in Chains” EP that perfectly defines the more experimental and diverse side of many new noise bands from Japan. We follow that with the most excellent Stagnation. This track might just be a wee too much for a lot of metal people to handle. Remember: noise, not music.
Tech-experimental death metal may sound a bit displaced in a hardcore set, but we vouch for Diskord any day of the week. This episode being anarchic by nature, the chaos that we get from these Norwegians is more than appropriate. Old school death metal is the starting point, sure, but Diskord’s rhythm section throws in jazz overtones and a hardcore punk punch that makes you think what the hell is going on (almost in a “John Zorny” way). Along with their mates Obliteration, these guys are shaping a new face for death metal – with a brain attached. We like it. A lot. And check out the garish cover artwork choices. Madness.
Birmingham is where it’s at. Doom are British crust pioneers and often namedropped as precursors to grindcore (Mick Harris was a member of an early Doom lineup). AND they were favorites of the late and great John Peel. Make no mistake: this is great shit. We went for the mouth-wateringly punishing “Fear of the Future”, from their 1987 “War Is Big Business” demo.
Here it is. 1987’s “Spending Loud Night” by Confuse. One of the best songs of all time as far as we are concerned. There is much to write about, but it’s not necessary to do it. In truth it’s actually quite apparent what makes this so special. It’s played at a slower pace than most noise-core, you can actually hear someone trying to sing and there are psych solos. How this actually works can only be attributed to sorcery. FUCK! There goes one more play. Wait a sec. Gonna listen to this again.
Amebix is of course a SATAN MADE ME DO IT favorite, and in an episode about punks and ‘bangers’ broing out the choice was obvious. This time we went with a track from “Arise!”. It’s their best release and one of the best LPs to ever grace the earth.
After Amebix’s emotional breakdown, we felt we needed some space to breathe. But not much. Hence, Buzzcocks. If you never heard of them you probably don’t belong here. So we’ll skip the introductions and just move forward to Destroy!. To be honest there’s not much we can tell you about these capitalism-hating guys from Minneapolis, except that this is crust-grind at its rawest and most brutal. We love this type of drummer who almost tramples himself as if as if his hands were not able to follow the head’s desire to pummel the drums as hard and as fast as possible. Also, notice the male-female double duty on vocals. YEAH!
Today a lot of people associate the blast beat with metal, but drummers have been playing fast for a long time. Jazz musicians used blast beats. And before metal did it, there was hardcore. D.R.I., Heart Attack, Cryptic Slaughter and Asocial, who we’ve decided to cover with “Krossa Nazismen” from their 1982 demo, all used more or else something close to what we today call a blast beat or, for lack of a better expression, “very fast drumming”.
Not much to say about Terror from Japan. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of information out there about them. Released one EP in 1989 titled “Evil of Terror” which alludes to the very classic theme of nuclear holocaust and called it quits. It’s both fast and raw, but what really makes it stand out is the cool chorus and vocals.
We’re pretty sure that M.O.D. could have gone places if Billy Milano (from S.O.D. fame) wasn’t such a prankster – and not very good at it, most of the times. Don’t believe it? Check “U.S.A. for M.O.D.”. It’s a PRETTY FUCKING GOOD hardcore/crossover album. Almost no filler here. Actually it was hard to pick a track for this episode, so expect more in the future. Unfortunately, everything went downhill for M.O.D. going forward.
This is the end. We leave all the anger and aggression behind us. It’s time for good ol’ cynical fun, the Jello Biafra way, his words burning away like Alien’s acid blood. This is from one of his many collaborations, this time with Canadian hardcore punk pioneers D.O.A. After that, a cautionary tale about bourgeois life. Now THAT’S PROGRESS!
- I Saw the Light | Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys (USA) | University of Michigan, Ann Arbor [Live], 1967 http://www.discogs.com/artist/450691-Bill-Monroe
- Rotten to the Core | Rudimentary Peni (UK) | Death Church [LP], 1983 https://www.facebook.com/rudimentarypeni
- You’re a Cop | Anal Cunt (USA) | I Like It When You Die, 1997 http://www.discogs.com/Anal-Cunt-I-Like-It-When-You-Die/release/463699
- Making Love With The Devil | Zouo (JAP) | The Final Agony [7” EP], 1984 http://www.discogs.com/Zouo-The-Final-Agony/master/363740
- Untitled | Death Dust Extractor (JAP) | Slay Your Masters Or Slave In Chains [EP], 2009 http://www.discogs.com/artist/239472-Death-Dust-Extractor
- No.1 | Stagnation (JAP) | Total Noise Core [Split with Control (20)], 2011 https://www.facebook.com/stagnation.japan
- Horrid Engine | Diskord (NOR) | Oscillations [EP], 2014 http://www.diskord.net/
- “Riots in Athens during Merkel’s visit”, Angelos Rallis [YouTube video]
- Fear of the Future | Doom (UK) | War Is Big Business [demo], 1987 http://www.doomcrustpunk.com/
- Spending Loud Night | Confuse (JAP) |Spending Loud Night [EP], 1987 https://files.nyu.edu/cch223/public/japan/confuse_main.html
- Drink And Be Merry | Amebix (UK) | Arise! [LP], 1985 https://www.facebook.com/Amebix
- You Tear Me Up | Buzzcocks (UK) | Another Music in a Different Kitchen, 1978 http://www.buzzcocks.com
- Prey in School | Destroy! (USA) | Necropolis, 1994 http://www.discogs.com/Destroy-Necropolis/master/15038
- Krossa Nazismen | Asocial (SWE) | Demo [Demo], 1982 http://www.discogs.com/artist/641669-Asocial
- Timer | Terror (JAP) | Evil of Terror [EP], 1989 http://www.discogs.com/Terror-Evil-Of-Terror/release/2952262
- Hate Tank | M.O.D. (USA) | U.S.A. for M.O.D., 1987 https://www.facebook.com/ModMethodOfDestruction
- That’s Progress | Jello Biafra With D.O.A (USA/CAN) | Last Scream of the Missing Neighbors, 1989 http://www.discogs.com/Jello-Biafra-With-DOA-Last-Scream-Of-The-Missing-Neighbors/release/1761200
- Joy | David Shrigley (UK) | Rough Trade Shops Counter Culture 11, 2012 https://www.facebook.com/pages/David-Shrigley/17967674156