Reviews

Ruin Nation

Extinction of Mankind Baptised in Shit LP reissue

Mid-’90s UK crust was a huge part of my interest in the heavier spectrums of punk rock as I was finishing up school and entering a world where I really made my own decisions for the most part. This scene of music, including the Bradford 1 in 12 Club and Flat Earth Records, was very formidable for me lyrically, culturally, stylistically, and musically. HELLKRUSHER, EXCREMENT OF WAR, DOOM, ENT, CONCRETE SOX, EXTINCTION OF MANKIND…all a huge deal to me. Okay, enough about me. I haven’t even started listening to this yet! Objectively, Baptised in Shit is a walloping heavy crust album. Dirgelike, epic, D-beaten, metallically riffed crust punk. It reeks of bitter pessimism, channeling earlier UK bands such as ANITSECT, ICONS OF FILTH, STONE THE CROWZ, NAPALM DEATH, and AMEBIX, and certainly pulls inspiration from European thrash metal from about a decade earlier such as ONSLAUGHT and CELTIC FROST. There are also peace punk moments reminiscent of OI POLLOI, LIBERTY, or OMEGA TRIBE. It is not the fastest of their ilk, but it flows and is immersive. If you’ve never checked out this debut album, now is your chance to get a good deal. This remastered reissue really brings out the metal guitar tones and rolling drum moments. INSTINCT OF SURVIVAL, VISIONS OF WAR, GUIDED CRADLE, even EFFIGY and HELLSHOCK really would not stand out as they do today without a nod to albums like this one.

Jalang Santau LP

From the Land Down Under comes a vicious D-beat stomp to the head in the form of JALANG, formerly known as LÁI, the name under which the ripper Pontianak was released. With this new moniker, they are back with Santau, a feast of fast D-beat hardcore punk with obvious Swedish inclinations, as well as their own exciting twists and turns, making this an above-average LP. The eleven tracks rip through you like a knife through butter, and they deal with the realities of the modern world filtered through dysphoric eyes. I love it when punk bands retain some sense of politics, and I would say that from the name to the last beat, this is a heavily political album, having its core in gender politics. There is an awesome CONFLICT cover as well. With members and ex-members of PISSCHRIST, MASSES, and SHEER MAG, nothing less than great is expected.

V/A Unten links: Solidarität gegen Zensur und Repression CD

Well, there’s lots to say about this here compilation. Firstly, it’s a “Soli-Sampler für Indymedia Linksunten” as the Germans would have it. Indymedia Linsunten was a website, part of the international Indymedia network, that was open access and used by a wide range of the anti-parliamentary Left to post about actions, events, and suchlike, and hence was taken down by the German state in 2017. Thusly, I’m guessing that the 29 bands contributing to this compilation would come from the more “political” (i.e. anarchist/explicitly left) end of the ol’ punk spectrum. Which makes it a fascinating snapshot of international (I’m guessing from the non-English names of the bands that at least half of them are from Germany and/or Northern Europe—y’know, all them umlauts and suchlike) more or less contemporary political punk. Several things immediately stand out. Well over half of the vocalists are women, and often where there are male vocalists there are also female. I’ve only actually heard of one of these bands before (the UK’s AUTONOMADS, whom I love dearly—and unsurprisingly, have a female vocalist—and a male one too!), though that probably says more about my knowledge of international punk than it does the “state of the scene.” And I use the term “punk” deliberately, because hardcore most of these bands certainly are not. Twenty years ago, one would safely presume that such a political compilation would be full of crusty DISCHARGE-esque bands, with perhaps the odd raging thrasher to break up the metal and grind. There’s nary a single song that would fit any of these descriptions. Indeed, the early CURE, or SISTERS OF MERCY seem to be more of an influence than RIISTETYT or BOLTHROWER. I guess with the German tradition of ’80s legends such as RAZZIA and SLIME, it’d be no surprise that driving melody is the norm here, with barely a sore throat amongst them. Other than the aforementioned AUTONOMADS, standouts for these ageing ears are SJU SVARA AR, LITOVSK and 100BLUMEN (who do the rather fine SISTERS OF MERCY impersonation), but really, the entire compilation is of a really high quality throughout. There’s not a duffer track to be found, and the cause, of course, is outstanding. Comes with a thick booklet about the German state and its nefarious actions, though all but some of the lyrics are in German. Top notch.