Merry Masscrust

When I got a bit of cash from my mum at Xmas, there was nothing I really wanted or needed at the time, so I decided to wait a bit for the right moment for it to play its part in the capitalist mode of exchange.

Extinction Of Mankind coloured vinylThat moment came in late February, when I was perusing the fine wares available at Profane Existence. I’d forgotten that they had decided to produce a ‘Vinyl Retentive’ series featuring special limited edition albums by some of their finest bands. There are five records in this first series, each one limited to 200 copies (50 for the bands and 150 for Joe / Josephine Punk). Each release comes with various unique features compared to the standard edition, whether that’s being pressed from coloured vinyl, wrapped in a new sleeve, or adorned with some other lovingly crafted addition. And, like always, I just couldn’t help myself.

To date, three albums have been put out – Extinction Of Mankind’s ‘Northern Scum’ , Mouth Sewn Shut’s ‘Doomed Future Today’ and Warcollapse’s ‘Defy!’. All three capture perfectly everything that PE is about, with the added bonus of having had even more lavish care and attention bestowed upon them than normal (and normal from PE means they’ve been loved to bits already). And a couple of hours ago, they all turned up on my doorstep. Ahh, I love the smell of vinyl in the morning. Needless to say, chez Old Punk has been rather exuberant ever since.

Now, some people might think that wanting to own a bit of petro-chemical product with some fancy trimmings is a bit weird (especially when you’re a man with as many years under the belt as yours truly). I don’t deny it. This is but one of my traits that many people would think weird, and long may it be so. But I’m not getting these for the sake of just owning something that few others have. Like I’ve said before, I find the whole vinyl thing very aesthetically pleasurable, even more so when it’s this good. I handle them, admire the artwork, read every last liner note and lyric and, most importantly, play them.

Warcollapse 'Defy!' LP wraparound sleeve with limited edition artworkThat’s probably the thing that separates me most from the vinyl ‘collector’. You won’t find my vinyl tucked away out of sight, only brought out once in a blue moon by some schmuck who won’t even take them out of their protective plastic sleeves. No, mine run free around the living room screaming ‘play me, play me!’, until I tuck them up safely at night just like the doting mother duck I am. For sure, I handle and care for ’em with the delicate touch of a museum curator fondling his ancient artifacts (fnarr fnarr), but art is meant to be enjoyed and experienced at its full potential. Creating a slab o’ vinyl is as valid an expression of artistic virtuosity as any painter bringing their world to life with colour on canvas (even if you don’t like the end result). The least I can do is show my appreciation for their efforts as fully as I can.

And appreciate these three I most certainly do. Extinction Of Mankind’s offering gets my vote as the best of the bunch for being everything that a crust classic should be – in-yer-face intensity from all of the instruments married with vocals from the depths of hell (and lyrics to match). And that red n’ black vinyl is simply to die for.

But the other two are only a hair’s breadth behind and won’t be treated any less favourably here. Mouth Sewn Shut add an unexpected ska-reggae twist to their offerings, albeit with all the crust trimmings. And Warcollapse splice the D-beat destruction of Discharge so loved by the Scandies to the brutal onslaught of ENT’s earslaughter to create a bastard child far, far harder than its parents. God knows what sort of teenager it’ll grow up to be with that kind of heritage.

Mouth Sewn Shut splatter blue vinylAll stand out from each other very clearly, but it’s obvious that they’re also closely-related cousins who carry all the good genetic traits from careful inter-breeding and not the ones you get when familial intimacy gets just a little too affectionate.

Even if you don’t want to indulge in the guilty pleasures that I find so attractive, you can buy standard CD or vinyl releases of these records (and many others) at very good prices in PE’s shop. They’re particularly wallet-friendly at the moment if you’re on this side of the pond, what with the English Pound being worth two of Uncle Sam’s greenbacks right now. Roughly translated, that means that each of these sexy records has cost me about fifteen quid including airmail. I can happily live with that.

OP’s opinion:
Extinction Of Mankind – Five
Mouth Sewn Shut – Four
Warcollapse – Four half
Overall – Five

Download sample tracks – folder contains:
Extinction Of Mankind – Fourth Reich Religion
Mouth Sewn Shut – Flavor Of The Weak
Warcollapse – Cold War Remains

Back To The Planet – A Potted History CD

Artist: Back To The Planet
Title: A Potted History
Source: CD LP
Bitrate: FLAC
Running time (h:m:s): 01:05:09
Size (mb): 107
Label: Arthur Mix Records
Year: 1994

Yet another band from my crusty traveller yesteryear who kinda lost the plot for a bit when they signed to a major label, disappeared for quite a while and have now popped up on the radar again. Mixing some classic ska’d up keyboard sounds with infectious punky guitar and a suitably large chunk of energetically dubby bass, the tunes were guaranteed to get the great unwashed up on their feet and dancing. Add in the strong female vocal delivery of simple but honest lyrics and you’ve got a band that could cut it with the best of the rest of the muddy field contingent.

With any luck, I’ll get an opportunity to check out just how well time has treated them somewhen soon. In the meanwhile, I can still stick this on the deck, crack a couple of tins of brew, wear a pair of week-old pants, dance like a muppet and instantly take myself back 15 years. Except for the dodgy hair, obviously.

OP’s opinion: Four

Click here to request the download link.

If you are the copyright owner and want us to take down your music, just click here and let us know. We’re really not trying to piss anyone off, we just want to share rare and out-of-print music with people who want to hear it.

And For My Next Trick…

Ghost Buffalo 'The Magician' sleeveAnother one of my favourite micro-labels, Suburban Home, is offering their latest release, Ghost Buffalo’s ‘The Magician’, as a free download to the first 200 people to click the link in the post. They’re keen for people to hear it, hopefully like it, spread the word, and maybe buy a copy and encourage others to do so too.

Suburban Home are a quirky little outfit with close personal ties to ‘their’ artists, and obviously have a deep love for what they’re doing. The packaging and presentation of their releases is exemplary, and makes the whole thing much more sensually appealing. OK, you’ve sussed me, I’m a dirty vinyl perv. But when it’s this classy, who wouldn’t be?

I like it, very much. It’s not punk (at least, not in the traditional sense of the word), but it has a quality to it that hooked me from the first note to the last. The music takes its inspiration from wherever it’s needed, creeping along a dark trip-hop path one moment before ripping it all up and pulverising it to gravel with a dirty slab of guitar noise the next. And the whole thing is held together by a voice that almost seems to float around you and wrap you up in the middle of it all. So I’m spreading the word and suggesting that you at least give ’em (and some of their label-mates) a spin.

OP’s opinion: Three half

All Guns Blazing

Fighting ChanceSacrifice And Struggle (ltd. edition package)
Insurgence Records

Fighting ChanceAs I’ve probably said more than once before, I like to get my music delivered through the post. Not only does it mean I usually deal direct with the label or band, it’s cheaper, there are often freebies and, most importantly, I love getting a parcel through the letterbox when I least expect it.

This past weekend was no exception. My friendly postie knocked the door and, with her usual cheerfulness, handed over a 12″ square package. Mmm, now I wonder what that could be? A sticker on the outside spoiled the surprise slightly by telling me that it had come from Insurgence Records, my favourite Canuck anti-fascist streetpunk label. But it also quickened my heart a bit too. It always takes a bit of time for their orders to arrive as I generally choose surface mail and spend the savings on more noise and associated stuff. That’s never been a problem for me ‘cos the wait’s always been worth it. This one kept their 100% record intact.

Fighting Chance package dealOpening it up revealed the Fighting Chance (from Baltimore) package deal I ordered back at the end of January. Consisting of a limited edition clear blue vinyl pressing of their ‘Sacrifice And Struggle’ LP (wrapped in a classy metallic silver sleeve), an exclusively-coloured and stylish t-shirt (I got the ‘Ashtray Grey’ version ‘cos smoking’s big and clever), and a copy of their blood-red 7″ ‘Party Lies’, as well as some promo posters and stickers, it was punk perfection. And a total bargain at only $20 (US) including snail mail.

Of course, the proof of the pudding is always in the eating, but I had a feeling that this was going to be a very tasty dessert. A feeling that proved to be pretty much spot on.

This is powerful stuff played with skill, passion and a heavy dose of hardcore attitude. Both records rush along at a healthy pace whilst maintaining great balance and clarity in the mix. The only minor gripe is the overall level is a bit on the low side on the album, but that’s what the volume knob’s for. Suffice to say, they’re nicely polished recordings and show off the musical talent admirably.

But without a voice and words to match, such technical prowess would be wasted and incomplete. That’s where Bullseye (vox, natch) delivers, taking the collaborative writing talents of the band and turning them into a message that simply cannot be ignored. Whether it’s taking the farce that passes for democracy to task and pointing a very pointy finger at politicians that ‘don’t give a damn about you and me’ (‘Party Lies’), or recounting glorious and inspiring tales of working class struggle when they remind us that ‘the working class built this land’ (‘History Repeats’), this is straight talking at its very best.

Fighting Chance called it a day in 2005, but their message is still much needed. This is essential listenening for anyone who likes their music loud, political and uncompromising.

OP’s opinion: Four half

Download sample tracks ‘Blamed’ and ‘History Repeats’

Project Boneyard sleeveFootnote: while you’re checking out Insurgence Records, don’t miss out on their anti-fascist awareness / label sampler compilation ‘Project Boneyard’. This was released a few years back to counter some particularly nasty bonehead sampler being dished out to schoolkids in North America by ‘white power’ losers. It’s completely free to grab and distribute, it’s all 320kbs mp3s, and there’s artwork included for printing your own sleeve. It’s also a damned fine sampler featuring the cream of anti-fascist streetpunk, Oi! and hardcore bands, including original skins The Oppressed and German herberts Stage Bottles. Off you go then.

Amebix – Monolith DL

Artist: Amebix
Title: Monolith
Source: Studio master
Bitrate: 256kbs
Running time (h:m:s): 00:44:04
Size (mb): 85.8
Label: Moshpit Tragedy
Year: 1987 (re-released 2008)

The BaronThis band should need no introduction. As the official Godfathers Of Crust™ before the term was even coined (credit for that goes to Hellbastard with their ‘Ripper Crust’ demo), they were personally responsible for adding the dark and crushing edge to the punk scene that many of us have come to love. They also had a pretty good sense of humour for such a miserable bunch of bastards.

This was their last full-length studio release and was, in part, responsible for the ultimate demise of the band soon afterwards. While ‘Arise!’ will always be their greatest triumph (at least for this Old Punk), ‘Monolith’ saw the band stretching their own boundaries to create something that, whilst still distinctly Amebix, showed just how much they had to offer.

So what’s the deal with the re-issue? Well, from what I can gather, the band got fucked over quite a bit by the label that originally released it and ended up out of pocket (which didn’t have much in them to start with). In true punk fashion, they’ve teamed up with Moshpit Tragedy Records to make it available again. And the deal is pretty good. Moshpit Tragedy operate a sliding scale payment system for all of the bands on their label. This ranges from free to a maximum of $10 Canadian. This particular download comes with very classy DIY CD sleeve and insert artwork that includes lyrics and a few words from The Baron.

I’ve stumped up the ten bucks (about a fiver in proper money) and grabbed it. I’ve always rated this band as one of the greats and I’m more than happy to show my appreciation for what they’re doing with this. Head over to Moshpit Tragedy and pay (or not, as you see fit) your respects too.

While you’re there, you’d be daft not to check out all of the other fine troubadours touting their tasty wares.

No Gods, No Masters!One final thing: The Baron has recently jammed with his bro’ (Stig – original guitarist) and Roy Mayorga (drummer from Nausea, amongst others) as a consequence of putting together an Amebix DVD. It all seemed to go rather swimmingly, and there is a possibility that a new phoenix may arise from the old ashes. The DVD, including the new recordings, is due out later this year. I, for one, am almost wetting myself in anticipation. This sounds like it will be much more than just a reunion re-hashing past glories (although a bit of that would be most welcome here).

OP’s opinion: Five

We STILL Fuckin’ Hate Thatcher!

Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Programme: In Living Memory
Broadcast date: 12.03.08
Size: 47.3mb

Oh how joyous it was to hear news last week that the old bag was taken ill. Sadly, she seems to have recovered, but it can’t be too long now surely? Apparently, she also has problems with her memory these days. Well, rest assured, I will NEVER forget what this hag did to me and my class. Unfortunately amnesia isn’t terminal, but I hope that she hurries up and dies in a suitably painful and lingering (but not too long) fashion.

Poll Tax Riot

In anticipation of that glorious day to come, here’s an episode of Radio 4’s ‘In Living Memory’ about a glorious day that’s already been – The Poll Tax riot in London on March 31st 1990. It includes interviews with people from both sides who were in the thick of it, as well as some of the politics underlying the whole struggle. Ian Bone (founder of street-fighting anarchist group Class War) recounts his memories of the battle, and a few old punks I know also get to say a word or ten about their take on events.

Up the proles!

Download broadcast

Pissed – Pissed 7″ EP

Artist: Pissed
Title: Pissed
Source: Vinyl 7″ EP
Bitrate: FLAC
Running time (h:m:s): 00:13:08
Size (mb): 21.7
Label: Profane Existence Records
Year: 1991

1. Purge
2. Strength From Within
3. Uprising
4. Sunrise In The West

Pissed were made up of people who were (and in some cases still are) involved with the Profane Existence collective. This record is a pretty good summary of what it’s all about. Jumping from crushing sludge to mid-paced hardcore, the EP has a proto-Aus-Rotten feel to it, albeit a more stripped down version. Lyrics are as intense as the noise that contains them.

Well, with a name like ‘Pissed’ and that kind of pedigree, what did you expect?

OP’s opinion: Four

Click here to request the download link.

If you are the copyright owner and want us to take down your music, just click here and let us know. We’re really not trying to piss anyone off, we just want to share rare and out-of-print music with people who want to hear it.