Felix Von Havoc
Profane Existence 40 Rise of Crust article
I touched on this in MRR a few years ago but after some discussion on the PE message board I’d like to enter my opinions on the Rise of Crust. First of all, I use two terms quite frequently, Crust and Crusty hardcore or Crust-Core. I’d like to explain the difference before we proceed. To me true Crust is very metallic, like Hellbastard, Concrete Sox, Deviated Instinct or later Amebix. Crusty Hardcore or Crust Core on the other hand is pretty much based in thrash and dis core such as Disrupt, Extreme Noise Terror, and Doom. Also some bands that have a big crust following I would argue are neither, Napalm Death were very popular during the rise of crust but their music is probably better described as Grind Core or later on Death Metal. Similarly Resist and Deprived were big in the crust scene but played more traditional Punk Rock. This month we will begin our examination of the rise of crust with the early English scene. American crust (Nausea, A//solution, etc) we will deal with next issue.
A note on my personal involvement: The rise of crust occurred when I was in my late teens and early 20s. I was a very active participant in this scene. I was doing a small distro, tape trading, reading zines and writing for PE, which covered a lot of these bands. By the late 80’s hardcore in the USA was pretty beat. With the exception of Straight Edge Youth Crew most bands were playing bad metal or indie rock. I had been really into the early 80’s UK bands like Discharge, Conflict and Icons of Filth. And it was towards England that my ears were turned in the late 80’s. I was at the “import” section of the record store every week looking for the latest from Heresy, Concrete Sox, Disorder, Napalm Death, Ripchord and Legion Of Parasites. However, I was not on the scene in England and experienced the Rise of Crust vicariously through fanzines, pen pals and tape and record trading. So any errors, omissions and half-baked opinions result from me being thus far removed from the action. The PE letter column next issue will be filled with scathing letters from people who were in England in the 80’s telling me I got it all wrong, I’m sure.
I don’t feel that Crust started with just one band. It was a number of influences coming together at the same time colliding for a brief point then each process of musical progression continuing on it’s course. Undeniably Crust started in England. It took much of its politics, lifestyle and ethics from the early 80’s peace punk/anarcho punk movement. But musically it borrowed heavily from both American and British Metal, US Hardcore, Brazilian, Scandinavian and Japanese hardcore. Ironically, much of the music that was to influence early crust was in turn influence by early UK punk/hardcore bands like Discharge, Disorder and Chaos UK.
I think the most important influences on the more metallic Crust were bands like Antisect, Anti System, Sacrilege, Amebix and the last Varukers LP (one struggle one fight) These were bands that started in the peace punk scene but played more hardcore style. As metal influence started to grow in hardcore around 84-85 many of these bands took on distinct metal influence. Note of course this was the same time American bands like DRI, Doctor Know, Corrosion of Conformity and such were “crossing over” into metal territory. One principal difference was the political stance went with the UK bands while the American bands dropped most of their politics and embraced the music industry. This was a critical point in the development of what would today be called DIY ethics. Also metal pioneers such as Motorhead, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost and Trouble certainly had their influence in the heavy riff and rhythm department.
I think Amebix and Antisect were the first true Crust bands. Both bands however, started out playing in a more different style and by their later releases evolved into the new style that became known as Crust. Amebix first two 7”s Winter and Beginning of the End are more influenced by bands like Killing Joke and UK Decay. The aesthetic though was dead on, post apocalyptic dark and morbid. Life in a nuclear winter, a scarred barren earth, the cold embers that the meek would inherit after mankind wasted the planet. The No Sanctuary 12” we begin to see their dark hardcore sound develop more into what we would think of as Crust. The titanic 1985 Arise LP really codified that sound, the dark grinding mix of early anarcho punk/ dark hardcore and Motorhead. The final Amebix LP Monolith is a little too metal and over produced for my liking, but it’s most people’s favorite. Here the Amebix really turned up the metal and Motorhead influence to create one of the definitive Crust LPs.
Antisect’s self titled 1983 LP is powerful and dark anarcho punk/HC but to me it’s not really a crust record. The Out From the Void 7” released in 1985 however, is pure Crust genius, a genre defining record in terms of style and music. There were some demos recorded in this period as well (85-86) that I think really set the tone for bands that were emerging at the time such as Deviated Instinct and Hellbastard.
First Hellbastard. Their 1986 RipperCrust Demo was the first time I remember hearing the term Crust used. Hellbastard’s first two demos Ripper Crust and Hate Militia (Ripper Crust was later bootlegged on vinyl) along with the LP Heading for Internal Darkness are among my favorite early crust releases. I would say that if I had to pick a record/band/sound to define what I thought was “true” Crust I would pick this early Hellbastard stuff. There is also an early Hellbastard 7” They Brought Death on a German Label. Hellbastard’s later material is pretty predictable metal. But the early stuff has all the elements of truly great crust. Gruff, usually reverb drenched vocals, grinding, churning metal edged riffs, pounding bass, and wicked but brief leads.
Along with Amebix, Antisect and Hellbastard the most “true” early crust band in my opinion is Deviated Instinct. Their two demos Tip of the Iceberg and Terminal Filth Stenchcore were followed by the 1987 7” Welcome to the Orgy on Peaceville, the label with whose name the rise of crust will forever be linked. Welcome to the Orgy was followed by 1988’s Rock and Roll Conformity LP also on Peaceville. Deviated Instinct had the metallic grinding riffs that really defined the more metallic crust, that chug, chug, chug wail, chug, chug, chug wail with the stops and starts accentuated and some double bass beneath the surface. They also had the look down with the black and white record covers featuring the bizarre mix of Celtic motifs and metal looking ghouls and demons, some how tied into anarcho punk politics.
Concrete Sox was one of the first UK bands to drift heavily from hardcore into metal territory. Their 1985 LP, You’re Turn Next featured some blazing metal leads and chugging metal riffs. I always felt that the early Concrete Sox stuff was more influence by Thrash Metal like Metallica and Kreator than traditional UK crust influences like Antisect and Discharge. But I think a lot of people would want to argue that point with me. Suffice it to say this is more thrash-influenced crust as opposed to say Amebix more Motorhead influenced crust. Perhaps it’s just the guitar tone, which makes me think metal as I don’t think Sox was tuned as low or produced to maximize the bass as much.
Two bands I think are very important to metallic crust, but don’t strike me as truly being Crust bands themselves are Bolt Thrower and Sacrilege. I’d have to qualify both these bands as hardcore/crust influence but pretty much Metal. The First Bolt Thrower LP In Battle There is No Law certainly has elements of Crust and Hardcore and appealed to a crust audience. Likewise, Sacrilege started out playing fast metal influence hardcore, especially the Sacrilege tracks on We Won’t be Your Fucking Poor, and Angelic Scrape Attic flexi. But the first LP they were already pretty deep into metal territory. And both Bolt Thrower and Sacrilege were full on metal by their second LPs. (as was Hellbastard I must note) That said Sacrilege Behind the Realms of Madness and the first Bolt Thrower LP are two absolute total classics, near perfect mixes of metal and hardcore.
Axegrinder played a grinding crust very reminiscent of Amebix and Antisect. Their Grind the Enemy Demo is much more raw and Antisect sounding. It was another year or two later that the Rise of Serpent Men LP was released on Peaceville, recorded in 1988 but I don’t think it came out until 1990. This LP is probably the last of the truly great early crust records out of England. The production on this LP leans a little more towards a professional sounding metal LP but it’s crisp compared to some of the muddy early crust stuff. Axegrinder is probably the only band to come close to the Amebix playing dark heavy crust.
Some other bands that I think were influential to early Crust were AOA, Anti System and Legion of Parasites. AOA were more straight ahead hardcore in the Crucifix/Discharge style. They did an LP and a split LP with Oi Polloi, which are both excellent. Anti System started out more in the Discharge/Icons of Filth style but added an increasing degree of metal influence to their sound. They did a 7” In Defense of the Realm, an LP No Laughing Matter a split 7” with Morbid Humor and a final LP A look at Life. Personally, I think their earlier more straight ahead hardcore material is the best. Legion of Parasites 1984 LP Unexpected Guests is more straight ahead hardcore punk but their second LP Prison of Life brings in some crust influence and their final 1987 LP delves into metal territory rather unsuccessfully.
Electro Hippies were another critical early crust band that mixed fast thrash with metallic crust. I first remember hearing them on the Digging In Water comp. They did two demos Killing Babies for Profit and Killing Babies is Tight. These were followed by the split LP with Generic then the Only Good Punk Is a Dead one LP. Also recommended is the Electro Hippies Peel Sessions LP. There are two later live LPs but personally, I’m not too into live hardcore records.
Also very important to early crust but not really a crust band is Napalm Death. Napalm Death also started out playing more traditional anarcho punk (the Hatred Surge Demo) but soon the line up changed and they headed off into uncharted territory and pretty much jump-started the Grindcore scene. Granted they were influenced by fast HC like Larm and Pandemonium as well as metal like Repulsion but Napalm Death really put all the pieces together to create the brutal fast grindcore sound imitated ever since. The Scum LP was so incredibly ahead of it’s time in speed and ferocity and in my opinion is a total genre defining record that has never, and can never be equaled. Still, I wouldn’t really consider Napalm Death to be Crust, but they were certainly influential in the days of the Rise of Crust.
Crusty Hardcore or Crust Core is the other “wing” of the crust movement. I would differentiate crust core musically as being more influenced by fast hardcore and thrash than metal or motorhead. Aesthetically and politically though, crust core is almost exactly like the more metallic crust. In my opinion the two definitive crust core bands are Extreme Noise Terror and Doom. As alluded too above these bands drew their influences heavily from Japanese, Brazilian and Scandinavian hardcore bands of the 80’s. Discharge, Vaurukers, Chaos UK and Disorder ironically enough had influenced those bands. I think the “gruff” vocal style comes mainly from the Brazilian bands. A lot of the early 80’s Brazilian hardcore singers had really gruff, gravelly vocals. But the speed and fast paced stops and starts certainly come from Japanese bands like Systematic Death, Gauze and Lip Cream. Likewise the brutal Dis-core sounds of Doom seem to be like Discharge filtered through Sweden and bands like Anti Cimex, Shitlickers, Bombanfall and Crude SS.
The first true crust core record in my opinion is the Extreme Noise Terror side of the “earslaughter” split with Chaos UK. This was a totally mind blowing record when it came out. Chaos UK was playing balls out thrash and ENT was just in a league of their own with those insane vocals and fast crushing riffs. The only thing I remember being this intense about 1986-87 was the Thrash Til Death Comp and Napalm Death “Scum” LP. ENT followed this up in 1989 with Holocaust in Your Head, which is an incredibly powerful crusty hardcore assault. There are also several peel sessions, and a live bootleg LP from this time period. The last of the critical early ENT records was the split LP with FilthKick, In It For Life. Which should be every true punk’s motto.
Doom is probably my all time favorite Crust Core band. I probably like them so much since Discharge and the Scandinavian bands that imitated them are my all time favorites. Doom took the Dis Core style and tuned it down even lower and made it more brutal, then threw in sick thrash parts and gruff vocals for the ultimate crust brutality. The 1988 War Crimes LP ripped a page out of the Discharge book aesthetically featuring pictures of war victims and casualties of bomb attacks. This is played out today, but at the time it was a breath of fresh air to see a band going back to the roots instead of trying to play metal or indie rock. (We’ll cover Dis Core like Disaster and Discard some other time) In 1989 Doom returned with a split LP with No Security from Sweden. This LP had even faster roaring riffs that just intensified the brutality. Soon after there was the Police Bastard 7” that has been pressed numerous times in the UK and the US and is still a crust classic. There is an LP of Doom Peel Sessions from this era that is pretty boss as well.
Atavistic was another early crust band that really turned up the speed. In fact their speed approaches grind core levels but they weren’t really tight and precise enough for me to consider them grind. More like a crust core wall of noise. They did two critical 7”s Life During Wartime and Equilibrium, as well as a demo From Within. Their LP on Profane Existence, I thought was rather disappointing. I hope I don’t get fired for saying that.
Two bands that were important to UK hardcore at the time but weren’t really crust were of course Heresy and Ripchord. These bands were more traditional 80’s style hardcore, but at much higher speeds. I think those bands are more like 80’s Italian hardcore or Dutch Hardcore (which in turn were influenced by US bands, note the flannels and bandanas) than the UK crust bands.
Some important early crust comps are the Vile Peace LP on Peaceville; the Hiatus comp on Peaceville, and both volumes of Hardcore Holocaust that featured Peel Sessions stuff. Also cool was the Grind Crusher comp (more metal than crust) and the Digging in Water comp, which has a lot of straight up punk stuff too, but at least to me, was pretty influential in exposing some new bands.
I think that just about covers all the important early UK crust bands. As I mentioned above-There was an eager audience for this new stuff in the USA. You could argue that bands like Nausea, Disrupt, Apocalypse, Glycine Max, A//solution, Antischism, Confrontation, and Destroy were imitating the UK sound of the time, or that the music was developing simultaneously on both continents. But that is a story for another time.
No Options Records, 1221 28th St. Oakland, CA 94608
Scathing hardcore from the Bay Area. If you wanted to compare these guys to other Bay Area bands you’d have to think early Christ on Parade, Code of Honor, Crucifix and maybe contemporary bands like Blown To Bits and Shut the Fuck Up. This is one of the most powerful American hardcore records I’ve heard in a while. Fast, raw and thrashy while super tight. It just seethes anger and frustration. The guitar tone is perfect and the vocals raw as hell. To me this record sits perfectly on the fence between thrash and crust. I guess it’s more in line with Japanese or Scandinavian Raw Punk in its sound and outlook. I don’t think anyone who like hardcore could hear this record and not get into it. Beautifully packaged in a poster sleeve, WITH and insert, sticker an button! Highly recommended.
Ready to Fight
Cadmium Sick, PO Box 35935 Brighton MA 02135
I don’t know much about this band. But this 7” smokes. Fast thrashy hardcore with totally over the top vocals. At first I didn’t like the vocals, but after a few listens I couldn’t imagine them any other way. Really juvenile and snotty but over some burly early 80’s Boston style HC. I wish this had a lyric sheet but the lyrics I can decifer are funnier than a Cheech and Chong Marathon while pointed and thought provoking. “Fuck Unity” and "Circle Mosh or Die” are particularly engaging. A lot of the tunes on this record are pretty catchy and don’t be surprised if you are humming “circle mosh” to yourself in the shower for a week. Includes an SSD cover and has a nice color sleeve.
Sairaat Mielet Extended Plays LP
Passing Bells, ritzinkuja 1D 20, 20380 Turku Finland
Kamaset Levyt, Mechelinkatu 24B 30, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
I have long felt that Sairaat Mielet was one of the most under rated hardcore bands ever. Sairaat Mielat were from Finland in the late 80’s and early 90’s. They were playing militant SE hardcore before it was cool to be militant and SE in a scene that is the drunkest on earth. But they dressed in traditional punk style with big Mohawks and studded jackets. Musically they were one of the fastest, most technical, yet incredibly catchy and powerful HC bands ever. The material from the Tippa Tappa EP especially is super fast yet full of layered and complex changes in rhythm with some sick back up vocals. This record floored me when I first got it in the early 90’s and I’ve been expounding it’s merits to who ever would listen ever since. Finally, a re issue has come to the fore in the shape of this LP with both 7”s and some unreleased live and demo material. The core of this LP is the Tippa Tappa 7”, but the rest is pretty bad ass as well. You can see the direction they were headed and it all came together on Tippa Tappa. This record is the essential document of one of the most raging and unique HC bands ever. Highly recommended.
V/A Neder Thrash In Opkomst
UPS records, Wanmalen 5, 3833 ED Leudsen, Nederland
Translated, “Dutch Thrash on the Rise” I wrote an article about Dutch Thrash for MRR some months ago. For those who haven’t been following the new wave of Dutch Thrash this 7” comp is your best introduction. I think this record has been largely overlooked in the US due to the Dutch Language title and six sleeve variants, none of which I think are very engaging. (I would have been happier with one really good piece of cover art rather than six mediocre ones) OK, packaging aside this is some sick as fuck fast hardcore from Holland with Mihoen, No Men, Cockroach, Betercore, Tuco Ramirez, SAF and the masters Seein Red. All the bands play fast no holds barred thrash and from what I understand are all singing songs against the Dutch monarchy. I guess I didn’t even realize Holland still had a Monarchy so this record doubles as being educational. That monarchy stuff has got to go. Stand outs are Mihoen and Seein Red. Band wise I think Holland has some of the very best fast thrash core going right now.
V/A Crossing Chaos/Full of Hatred split 7”
Crossing Chaos are one of my favorite Swedish bands. Great fast Scandinavian Hardcore Raw Punk in the Anti Cimex, Shitlickers, Skitsystem tradition. Dark, bleak abrasive, and brutal. I’m not so sure about the Anti American lyrics. “time to blow away the USA”? I think a lot of Europeans fail to realize that there are millions of Americans who oppose the actions of the US government and corporations. Just because the media doesn’t give us any voice doesn’t mean there isn’t some dissent in this country. Look at the anti globalization movement for proof. Just because the country is run by a gang of corporate robber barons and power hungry militarists doesn’t mean every one here deserves to get blown away. Anyway, just my opinions, the music smokes. Full of Hatred from Italy contribute some wicked fast hardcore on their side, I guess they call it “filth core” I won’t disagree.
Bombuilder “drop the big one” 7”
Crucial Records, 48 camino alto, Millbrae, CA 94030
Raw Thrashy hardcore in the early 80’s style from ex members of Gordon Solie Motherfuckers. Reminds me a lot of GSMF and H 100s. Fast, aggressive and pissed off. Seven songs, including Systematic Death and Terveet Kadet covers.
V/A Balance of Terror/Straight to Hell split 7”
Partners in Crime, 4507 Gentenbein, Portland, OR 97217
BOT play sick hardcore that reminds me a lot of Bastard and perhaps Tragedy. Dark, blast furnace Japanese style paint strippers. These guys were the best hope for NYC until they broke up this summer. Straight to Hell from Providence kick out the jams in a style that brings to mind Scandinavian bands like No Security. Both bands are total ragers. Partners in Crime only does quality.
V/A Tommorrow Will Be Worse 3
Sound Pollution, PO Box 17742, Covington, KY 41017
In MRR I was writing this column about how the comp was a dead medium, until I heard Tomorrow Will Be Worse 2 which was one of the best comps I’d heard in years. This next volume is a triple 7”, basically you get three split 7”s as one package. Which is cool because like the earlier volumes it’s several songs by each band. Featured are Idol Punch, Flag of Democracy, Fartz, Vivisick, Struck and Brody’s Militia. It’s cool to see 80’s die hards FOD along with the resuccitated Fartz along side newer bands like Brody’s and Idol Punch. This is a strong comp with solid material from all bands (as opposed to a lot of comps these days made up of filler and throw away tracks) I’m not quite as into it as the last volume in the series, but it’s still way up there in the comp medium in terms of bands, quality and originality. Sound Pollution always picks the hits!
Crude SS Crust’ll Survive LP
Second time around for this boot, which is basically a vinyl press of the Lost and Found CD which was also probably a bootleg. Crude SS are among the foremost of the early 80’s Swedish Hardcore canon. These guys are personal favorites of mine along with Anti Cimex, Shitlickers, SOD, and Mob 47. Along with those bands Crude SS forms one of the pillars upon which the temple of Swedish Core is built. Crude SS was more Discharge influenced but a little faster and more thrashy than some of their contemporaries. This is essential listening for anyone into Scandinavian hardcore.
Totalt Javla Morker “industrei, betong och salda sjalar” 7”
Communichaos box 825, 101 36 Stockholm, Sweden
Federatia Box 32, s-931 21 skelleftea, Sweden
Don’t let the modern hardcore/emo looking cover art fool you. This is raging Swedish hardcore! Totally raw and brutal TJM are fast moving to the front rank of the Swedish Hardcore Panoply. Some of the songs stick to the proven Scandi-crust core style while others move more in a modern hardcore direction (blast beats and synthesizer?!) or more US style Thrash. This band’s name means “total fucking darkness” turn out the lights and bust this fucker! Someone get me this band’s first 7”!
V/A Dios Hastio/Septicemia
Vicious Interference, Florida
Dios Hastio! This Peruvian bands is one of the best kept secrets in hardcore. Everything by this band smokes! Brutal, sick, angry d-beat raw punk! If these guys were from Sweden or Japan everyone would be wearing their t shirts and have their lyrics tattooed on their foreheads. Dark and negative and just burning with hatred and anger. (you’d be pissed off if you lived in Peru too I bet) Pick up anything you can find by this band. Septicemia from Brazil hold up the other side with some slightly metallic crust core.
January 1, 1984
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