Archive for punk

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

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

Review: Aktivna Propaganda

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on June 19, 2012 by Magadh

Aktivna Propaganda Podobe Iz Teme

I must admit, I have never heard a band from Slovenia so far as I know. If Aktivna Propaganda’s Podobe Iz Teme is anything to go by, this is something that I need to remedy. Back during the Cold War, a time that must seem like the stone age to many of you, punk in Eastern Europe was the sort of thing that one only read about in the pages of MRR. Of course, our European brethren were more proximate to the whole thing, and it must have had a bit more reality, but for most of us living in the US the only thing we knew about it was what could be gleaned from the occasional Yugoslavia scene report. The idea that there were kids like us living behind the iron curtain was just bizarre, I think mostly because a lot of us had imbibed the media view of things in which life in Eastern Europe was like Orwell’s 1984.

Putting aside for another time the question of how far wide of the mark those ideas were, I must say that I’ve really been lax in the attention that I’ve paid to this part of the world. Partly this has to do with the issue of language. My interest tends to focus on Western Europe because I have most of the languages spoken there. I’m always a little afraid that I won’t really be able to tell what’s really up with a band. This is not a problem with Aktivna Propaganda because, although they sing in Slovenian, they wear their politics right on their collective sleeve. They are unapologetically anarchist, anti-fascist, and committed to the d.i.y. ethic that is very much the best part of punk.

All of this wouldn’t necessarily mean that much if their music was lacking, but I am pleased to report that it is not. Podobe Iz Teme (which apparently means “Images from the dark”) is loaded with high quality, up tempo punk rock. The musicianship is excellent, especially in the case of the drummer, which is so often the failing of faster bands. Their music thrashes along quite pleasantly, slowing occasionally for spirited sing along sections. They have a really excellent sense of melody, although not so much of the dark variety that is so often adverted to on this blog. From first to last, this is an extremely catchy record, and I bet one that is very satisfying to sing along with, if one knew the language. Well, I’m fine with that. Too many bands sing in English. It simply abets the tendency of most English speakers not to learn other languages. But that’s another matter.

They’ve been around since 1999 or so and I’ve been none the wiser. I stumbled on this band purely by serendipity. They’ve got it up on Bandcamp on a name-your-own price listing, yet another indication that these guys have the right attitude. Now, if I can just find a Slovenian dictionary…

Magadh

NOMADS: Night​.​Owls​/​/​Mayhem​.​Aficionados​/​/​Death​.​Seekers

Posted in Gigs, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2012 by Magadh

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I occasionally peruse the website of Los Angeles based DIY clothing label Wartime Collective. During one of my recent visits I took a gander at their blog and encountered hard assed Angelinos Nomads, I was immediately blown away.

Nomads are a 5 piece who play d-beat hardcore in the vein of Anticimex and Skitsystem with a smattering of Nausea influenced guitar solos thrown in. Their tape/download release Night.Owls//Mayhem.Aficionados//Death.Seekers is unrelenting. The EP features 3 tracks of aural assault clocking in at just under 5 minutes. If you’re looking for something to rage to, Nomads are your huckleberry.

To learn more about Nomads, pick up the tape release, or download the EP come this way
If you live in Fullerton check them out here

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– Captain of Games

We Heart D-beat!

Posted in Dispatches with tags , , , , , , , on June 1, 2012 by Magadh

If there is one thing the 1000 Trivialities bunker holds self evident it is the unassailable truth that d-beat is unfuckwithable. In that spirit, we’d like to share a few of our favorite bands with you.

Discharge “Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing”

Wolfbrigade “Hostile Wasteland”

Disfear “Misanthropic Generation (live)”

Skitsystem “No Hope, No Future, No Second Chance”

Tragedy Full set live at Tampere, Finland 5.13.11

– Captain of Games