Äni(X)Väx Schock und Drama LP
I wanted so badly to like this. On paper, ÄNI(X)VÄX (which is apparently code for “animal vaccination”) are legendary. Birthed from the fertile mid-’80s German punk scene, stories abound of post-gig punks-versus-police street fights, and something referred to as the “Odeon Pizza Battle of 1988.” Sick! Despite appearances on a handful of comps, they were unable to release any records during their five-year lifespan. That gives them mystique. One of their guitar players is named Fast Gonzo! What’s not to like!? Cue the first song…of the thirteen tracks on Schock und Drama, six are studio recordings and seven are live takes from various shows. Obviously, the sound quality is not going to be the best on some of the live tunes. That’s not the issue. What it really boils down to is that the songs are just not that interesting. It’s your basic four-chord, mid-tempo boilerplate punk. Sloppy but lacking chaos, the tracks overstay their welcome by being too repetitive. The vocalist has an uninspired sing-the-riff delivery that doesn’t hold my attention the way that the pictures and stories of the band do. To be fair, nothing here is egregious or even bad, but the mediocrity makes the disappointment somehow worse. ÄNI(X)VÄX, as represented here, just doesn’t compare to the heavyweights of the era. If you are interested in Deutschpunk, check out VORKRIEGSJUGEND’s excellent 1983 EP Heute Spass, Morgen Tod, INFERNO’s The Son of God EP from ’85, or the Let’s Have More Fun compilation on which ÄNI(X)VÄX appears. As a historical document, Schock und Drama is quite fascinating. I’m glad that it exists. It’s just a shame that the music falls short.