Archive for d-beat

Review: Destierro

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 12, 2013 by Magadh

Destierro Örlog Chaos666

destierro_covI’ve heard a lot of awesome music from Spain lately, as readers of this blog will know. One thing that has struck me is that specific take on the d-beat format that bands from Spain have evinced of late. Instinto is an obvious case of this. While playing fierce d-beat music they retain a sort of lightness that differentiates them from the mainline Scandinavian bands. Even bands like Totälickers, whose point of reference seems a lot closer to Totalitär than it does to Anti-Cimex, still have this quality of lightness that for me amounts to a distinctive Spanish sound. This is a good thing. It keeps the format varied and creates space for people who want to create within it while not merely aping sounds produced in other places.

Of course, things are different up in the Basque country, thus it is not surprising that their take on this format would be rather different as well. On their Örlog CD, Destierro offer a darker, more metallic take on this format than the above named acts. There is a definite influence of bands like From Ashes Rise and Wolf Brigade, but Destierro’s take on d-beat retains its own particular approach, depending more on straight aggression rather than the melodic overlays that are characteristic of bands like FAR, Sarabante, etc. Destierro are very direct in the way that they do things, using downtuned guitars to create a gloomy and chaotic atmosphere. Their lyrics are also less directly political than some of the other Spanish d-beat bands discussed in this space, running more to the destruction of the individual and the problems of existence than to directly political topics. Overall, this is a really savage release, and one that deserves your attention.

Watch them do their thing here.

Magadh

Review: Crutches

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on January 9, 2013 by Magadh

Crutches D-Beat Tsunami Phobia Records

Crutches2Back in June we reviewed a demo by the young Swedish d-beat band Crutches. We thought, and continue to think, that it was quite promising. Well now some of that promise has come to fruition, as the band has released a three song 7” entitled D-Beat Tsunami. As you might expect if you’d heard their demo (and you really should) this is some thick and grimy Scandinavian d-beat. There are some differences between this and the demo. Most notably the recording quality is a rather better, with the drums in particular coming through with more force than on their previous effort. As with the demo, this new recording has a really angry quality and illustrates that passionate aggression that continues to make this format a vibrant mode of political expression. This EP is essential for those devotees of d-beat whose love affair with bands like Crude SS and (early) Anti-Cimex continues. Of course, I number myself among them.

Magadh

Review: Livstid

Posted in Reviews with tags , , on July 26, 2012 by Magadh

Livstid, s/t Fysisk Format

We hear a lot of d-beat here in the bunker. Which is not to say that we don’t listen to lots of other stuff. But if you were to open the top hatch and climb down into the darkness, your journey would most likely be accompanied by raging guitars and gruff lyrics about the apocalypse. That’s just how it is. It can be a little numbing, especially these days when there seems to be something of a d-beat renaissance going on. Not a day passes that we don’t get some new demo or other, some of which are super, others, not so much.

A colleague of mine who spends a lot of time in Scandinavia sent me a copy of the demo by the Bergen band Livstid that they apparently put out last year. Well, it rocked quite hard. Come to find out, it actually made it in a full release as of October or so of last year. I’ll be honest, when I think of Bergen, I think of guys in corpse paint wandering through the streets swilling vodka and blowing fireballs everywhere. Ok, I know rationally that this isn’t how things are (or ever were) up there, but I think if you queried most fans of underground music they could probably name half a dozen black metal bands hailing from that neck of the woods. And, truth to tell, I’ve always sort of thought of Norway as the poorer cousin in terms of Scandinavian HC. With no disrespect intended, I think it’s fair to say that the history of hard thrashing bands from both Sweden and Finland pretty clearly outstrips that of Norway. Denmark gave us bands from Enola Gay and the Electric Deads up through Amdi Petersens Armé. Aside from Akutt Innleggelse, I can’t really name any Norwegian hardcore bands off the top of my head.

Well, that’s on me, I suppose. I shouldn’t blame the Norwegians for my own obliviousness. In any case, it’s something that I intend to pay a bit more attention to on the basis of this Livstid record. This disc features thrash of a really skull-crushing variety. They sound like a little bit less downtuned, slightly more metallic version of Skit System. From the opening cut, this record is right up in your grill with aggressive guitars and more thudding double bass action that you find on a lot of d-beat records. The recording quality is very good, the sound is full, but retains a pleasing level of dirtiness that is sometimes lacking in bands with the kind of metal overtones such as this. They keep the songs short, thus avoiding one of the more common failings of this genre: excessive repetition of an idea that wasn’t that great in the first place. Livstid assaults the listener with short, direct bursts that keep the attention and cause the head of even the most jaded d-beat reviewer to bang. This is a wonderfully intense record from start to finish.

I see from their site that they’re playing a few festival shows these days. This is the sort of band that needs to be encouraged to make it over to the states

Magadh

Review: Martyrdöd

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on July 12, 2012 by Magadh

Perhaps no event has been so eagerly awaited here in the bunker as the arrival of the Paranoia, the new disc from those masters of Swedish d-beat, Martyrdöd. Those in that microset of humanity who actually read this blog with regularity will know that there is an obsession with Martyrdöd among the editorial staff here that really borders on the pathological. Imagine, then, the paroxysms of joy that arose when this disc found its way through the mail slot.

Having said all that, there was also a sort of trepidation at its arrival. This stemmed from the fact that Sekt, the band’s previous outing, had not quite lived up to the standard set by its predecessor. This is, in a certain sense, hardly a very trenchant criticism. In Extremis (2005) was a watershed moment in the history of Swedish d-beat. A new standard had been set. It was almost inevitable that whatever followed it was going to be something of a letdown.

Perhaps the difference between the two discs can be described as follows. The brilliance of In Extremis was that the way that it combined melody with extremes of downtuning. By my calculations, the guitars on In Extremis were tuned down to B (either that or they were using some sort of drop tuning but you get my point). As numerous bands have heretofore discovered, tuning down that far runs the risk of turning the music into indecipherable mush. Although the guitars on In Extremis could be a bit indistinct, they created a dark maelstrom over which the second guitar then spiraled compelling minor key melodies. These seemed to emerge out of a churning fog of d-beat thrash. Added to this was the fact that the melodies themselves often comprised six measures, rather than four, and the extra time that they took to resolve added a compelling tension to the music.

On Sekt, released four years later, many of the same features were in evidence. It seemed, however, that they were trying to move forward stylistically. Part of my problem with Sekt, from a personal perspective, was that I just didn’t like the riffs as much. That is a purely subjective assessment. From a more objective perspective, there was it was clear that the song structures were somewhat different than they had been on In Extremis. “En Demon” is a good example of this. The first thing that one notices is that the beat is a straight thrash tempo rather than the sort of the bracketed beat typical of d-beat drumming. The dark guitars churn away in their accustomed fashion, and after a while one hears one of Martyrdöd’s typical dark melodies. However, it is a more typical four bar melody and it disintegrates relatively quickly into a more straight ahead rock lead.

This is just one example, and there are many others that could be adduced. The point is not that Sekt is a bad record. Rather, it had the misfortune of having been released after a great record. If it had followed Martyrdöd’s self-titled first album, it might have looked a bit better. But it wasn’t, and it is what it is (or it was what it was). In any case, how then does Paranoia stack up?

Quite well as a matter of fact. Martyrdöd has managed to advance stylistically, while still retaining the features that made them great in the first place. There is a much more pronounced metallic influence in terms of style and production on Paranoia than on previous releases, but not the extent that it effaces the underlying hardcore impulse. The guitars are still tuned way down, but there is a crispness to the production not in evidence on earlier releases. The melodic overlays on Paranoia are far superior to those found on its predecessor, and rather than swelling out of a dark cloud, they now sit majestically atop precise and crushing riffage. The other elements that lifted Martyrdöd above the run of d-beat acts are strongly represented; from the jackhammer drumming to the singer who sounds like he’s shouting last words before his execution.

Verily, this is a record whose strains will be echoing around the hallways of the bunker for many weeks to come. It’s always really nice to hear a great band explore something new within a style that they have mastered. Martyrdöd have (once again) thrown down the gage to the d-beat bands thrashing in the ruins of the world? Who, then, will take it up?

Magadh

Review: Crutches

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , on June 29, 2012 by Magadh

Crutches Demo 2012 self-released

I’ve never actually been to Sweden, but I’ve got to think it’s a pretty interesting place. For starters, they must have more anarcho-crust bands per capita than any place on the planet. Little did I know when I procured my first Crude S.S. 7”, back in the long forgotten days of the early 1980s, that it would be the start of such a fruitful relationship.

One problem that arises out of this for aspiring Swedish thrashers is that if you’re going to mine this vein now you’ve either got to be a bit ignorant or a bit arrogant. If it’s the former, it’s a matter of not recognizing that you will be judged against every band from Asocial to Wolfbrigade, with about a thousand points of reference in between. If it’s the latter, it’s a matter of knowing this and not caring, which is also a viable strategy. It’s often said that rock and roll should be played as if one had just discovered it five minutes ago, and this holds a fortiori for Scandinavian d-beat bands. This particular furrow has been so extensively plowed that the hope of finding some new twist within the format must be vain.

With that granted, I still believe that it is a thing worth doing. This is a powerful mode of expression; one that combines dissonance and dissidence, so to speak. It is a mode of counterhegemonic art and identity formation that still provides the opportunity to create a self outside the norm, and to forge connections with others similarly inclined to form identities outside of society’s norms.

It is from such a perspective that I had the pleasure of discovering the recent demo from Sweden’s Crutches. This is some angry, aggressive d-beat hardcore in the tradition of Anti-Cimex, Avskum, Diskonto, yeah, you get the idea. The recording quality is quite good, with guitars rendered in that razors through flesh sort of sharpness that the bands of the early waves of d-beat could only dream of. The most common failing of bands like this is to dwell to long on song structures that are too simple. Crutches avoid this pitfall, concocting short, angry blasts that leave the listener wanting more, rather than wondering when the song is going to end. You have to love a band that manages five repetitions of the f word in the first ten seconds of their first cut. They also get added points for most evil rendering of a squid in their logo.

They’ve released this demo via bandcamp and on their website. Head over there and get it. Yes, you! Do it now.

Magadh

Inherit the Wasteland: Sweden’s Misantropic

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on June 28, 2012 by Magadh

Nausea Extinction Profane Existence Records/Selfless (re-issue)
Misantropic Insomnia Southern Lord

My first real musical exposure to Nausea (the band’s patches have always been ubiquitous) was in the fall of 1993.  I had bunked off a day of school to start my Thanksgiving break early and joined two friends on a road trip to San Francisco. Our plan, such as it was, consisted of couch surfing at various punk houses. These houses also served as a base of operations to catch some shows, visit friends, see the city and buy some records.

Having exhausted the stacks at Amoeba and Rasputin’s, I found myself at the legendary Epicenter Zone collective diligently dissecting their selection. In the course of my search I came across the Selfless reissue of Nausea’s Extinction Lp. The Selfless album was actually called Extinction The Second Coming and featured not only the classic LP but also the Cybergod 7” and various other tracks. Something compelled me to take a chance on it and I figured the re-issue gave me the best bang for my meager student buck. As longtime fans of the band will tell you, the reissue contains most of the post Neil Robinson catalog and the bulk of their strongest material. In my case I was hooked from the first bleak notes of “Tech-no-logic-kill”.

Nausea effectively fused the dark lyrics and soundscapes of Amebix, burly Discharge riffs and d-beats, and Motorhead inspired guitar licks with the potent 1-2 vocal punch of Amy Miret and Al Long. They also practiced what they preached with band members active in Food Not Bombs, ABC No Rio, the New York squatting movement and as participants in the Tompkins Park Riot. I found the whole combination compelling and, while it took me awhile to warm to their contemporaries in the crust scene, Extinction became a frequently played masterpiece in my growing collection of punk.

My love of late period Nausea drew me to Sweden’s Misantropic and I hurriedly snatched up the US release of their LP Insomnia on Southern Lord. One of the primary factors was Gerda’s vocal style and its striking similarity to that of Amy Miret. Matte’s vocals, when combined with Gerda, also conjure memories of Al Long. However, a fixation on this really does the band a disservice.  Nausea drew upon the likes of Amebix, Discharge and Motorhead, Misantropic invoke the might of Antisect, Doom, Wolfbrigade and Disfear. Their style has of less of the building bleakness of Nausea. Instead, they pummel the listener into submission with punishing riffs and rolling thunder for drums.

Their lyrics are standard fare for the genre but suit the music quite well. “Born to Die” focuses on the bloody images of the slaughter house, “Raise the Gallows” is class warfare set to a d-beat and “Lords of War” laments the millions lost in religious wars. In the case of “Lords of War”, Mistantropic’s discussion of the lyrics is refreshing. While so many bands focus solely on Christianity’s bloody history the band, via their website, remind the listener, “Too many people have died in vain under the sign of a cross or a moon crescent.” No Gods, No Masters indeed!

For fans of the genre, Mistantropic’s Insomnia is required listening. I wholehearted recommend you purchase the album from your local record shop or from the fine people at Southern Lord. The band is coming off a hiatus resulting from the birth of Gerda and Matte’s first child. I, for one, can’t bloody wait to hear what comes next.

– Captain of Games

Heavy Metal Book Club

Posted in Dispatches with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2012 by Magadh

Image

Once a month, we sally forth from the bunker and commune with a group of like-minded souls. Our order of the day is sharing songs of the resistance, hymns to the dark powers, and droned invocations of a dark apocalypse.

The playlist from last night’s Heavy Metal Book Club is below. We encourage you to organize one in your town.

Azaghal “Hail the Whore”

Hail Spirit Noir “Pneuma”

1349 “Strike of the Beast (Exodus cover)”

Conan “Satsumo”

Mares of Thrace “The Gallwasp”

Early Graves “Wraiths”

Urgehal “The Necessity of Total Genocide”

Ghost “Ritual”

Pallbearer “An Offering of Grief”

Black Breath “Feast of the Damned”

Misantropic “Man Into Beast”

Nile “Utterances of the Crawling Dead”

Big Business “Easter Romantic”

Anhedonist “Carne liberatus”

High on Fire “How Dark We Pray”

Candlemass “Destroyer”

– Captain of Games