The Nightmare Continues...and Continues, and Continues...Discharge, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways....over a quarter-century since the release of their earth-shattering debut EP, and the influence of Stoke On Trent's finest continues to make itself felt and heard through the rawest and toughest of hardcore punk around the world. This past weekend's vinyl binge culled several new releases proving that point mightily, with strong Discore slabs from Japan, Canada and Spain as well as a new installment from the originators themselves. Dig in:
Kontempt s/t EP
Montreal's Kontempt debut with an eponymous seven-song effort that veers a little from the direct path to take its prime influence from the early Swedish bands that emulated Discharge with unprecedented effect in the early and mid '80's. With accelerated tempos and gutteral vocals applied to the burly, distortion-drenched "Fight back" template, this is a shredding assault in the finest tradition of Crudity, Sound of Disaster and Discard. The bass is a chugging monster and the guitars depart from their chainsaw riffing on cue with sick, atonal leads that quickly self-destruct and sink back into the charging mess below. 100% recommended, as is this band's equally relentless live set. (The End Records, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclose/Flyblown split EP
Easily the most important and perversely influential of the really overt Discharge copies, Disclose have made a substantial career out of endlessly rearranging and combining riffs and lyrics from a period of Discharge's own catalogue. The "classic" period, of course, but there's still something truly bizarre about approximately forty songs released between 1980 and 1982 becoming the source material for a repetoire of what must be a couple hundred Disclose songs recorded over the past fifteen years or so. Disclose very rarely tamper with the formula, either, with brief forays into more Broken Bones influenced material, or different variations on the principle of poor production, being about the only (barely) discernable shift in execution. Such single-minded devotion to such an incredibly narrowly proscribed musical endeavour as Disclose's version of d-beat is impressive, and this latest batch of three more songs (actually recorded in 2002) sounds exactly the same as every other Disclose record that enjoyed decent enough production. It's also testament to my own severely compromised tastes that I actually eagerly snapped it up without a second thought, secure in the knowledge that it would indeed be identical to every other Disclose record I own (let's not go there).
On the flipside, England's Flyblown waste their vinyl with five short tracks of disposable crust/grind noise with grunted vocals and downtuned everything, making for a completely forgettable listen. Admittedly, even this stuff is deeply rooted in Discharge, but its tedium and sluggishness (even at high speed) are no legacy to be proud of. (On the Verge, email@example.com)
Hermit Prose "Down Beats Sect" EP
This new Osaka outfit debuts with a blazing "nine minutes of thrash & rove", whatever the hell that means, an idea further reinforced by the back cover's bold declaration that "This is howling minded Japanese style!" I'm certainly not one to argue with any characterization of the cacophony within these grooves as "howling" or "thrash", and while their total debt to Discharge is undeniable, it's equally true that their expert distillation of the sound's essential qualities-- rawness, velocity and distortion-- is informed by the previous generation of Japanese crasher crust units (Gloom, Defector, Iconoclast, Abraham Cross etc) that took the concept to new extremes from the early '90's and on, so I won't quibble about the "Japanese style" claim either. Overall, this is a decent example of current Japanese crustcore, with its massive, buzzing production and impressive levels of power and energy, but its heavier impulses and very gruff vocals render it a little less than essential for this purist. (Crust War, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Discharge/MG15 split EP
Like so many other raw hardcore bands, Spain's MG15 formed in the early '80's with the expressed intention of recreating the power and fury of early Discharge (they had previously been called Slips Y Sperma), so it's no suprise that the liner notes to this new split release should refer to it as "making an old dream real". Unbelievably, the band's three songs of fast, angry d-beat hardcore here are actually pretty great; the production is a little cleaner and the guitars a little sharper than the fuzzed-out noise attacks of yore, but this is still genuinely engaging, relevant hardcore with charging rhythm section, powerful vocals and a relentless, charging energy that just can't be faked. Very reminiscent of prime Ratos De Porao (and not just because of the vocals), which is very much compliment.
The Discharge side of this record has received a lot of criticism, and it would be absurd to claim that it's on the same level as the material they were spitting out 25 years ago, but it's a perfectly enjoyable set of traditional hardcore punk that's far from embarassing for a band that's been around as long as this. A rougher, more stripped-down production job certainly wouldn't hurt, although it's far from slick, but the energy and structures are there and I'll take an authentic lifer like Rat doing competent, suitable vocals than Cal doing falsetto glam singing anyday. Recommended, honest-- and I'll review their new full EP next week. (Throne, wwwthronerecords.net)