METAL FOR YOUR GYM EAR: CRUST IN PEACE

As we like to introduce fitness ideas to many, we also like introducing you to music you might or might not know about. A ton of heavy music was influenced by genre of hardcore punk known as Crust. So we employed HIGH DEFAMATION’S ERIC BAUER who is extremely knowledgable on the genre to break it down for everyone.

Tracing back the beginnings of my musical tastes remains an important factor for me when determining the evolution of what I currently favor. As well, to definitively imply that my tastes could potentially be narrowed down to a singular genre seems absurd.

Not that I ever intend to be THAT guy that claims to like “all music”. I have long held the belief that such a statement is generally a lot of horse shit heaped in order to hide one’s apathy about music in general. It would be easy for me to say that I like black metal. I do, though not all of it, and the amount of sub-genres within it is astounding. Mostly atmospheric black metal and bestial blackened death metal. But I also love jazz. Not Kenny G styled smooth jazz, but greatness inspired by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Charles Mingus, Cannonball Adderly, Chet Baker, and the more obscure stylings of John Zorn, Bill Laswell, and Bill Frizell. In the same token, I’m a fan of raw death metal, crossover, blackened thrash, and downtuned d-beat filth. But where did I acquire these tastes?

Probably because I was a punk kid back in the day. Obsessed with crust and d-beat and dissonant anarcho-punk. At the time, it was likely the rebeliousness of it all that appealed to me, but the “everything but the kitchen sink” ideology that really had any staying power. I was transfixed by the rage and vitriol of international acts that lived their politics: squatting in abandoned flats and having face-offs with jackbooted cops, integrating everything else that appealed to them to bring about their end product. As well, it was the disaffected American suburban youth punk that I most connected with. Raising fists against the pending corporate theocracy of the US as well as domestic animal testing and the proliferation of tainted meat through our fast food industry.

But I digress. I was asked to compile a list of five albums that hearken back to the crust of my youth that I consider essential. Only two of them will be from bands abroad, simply because at the time, I had no way of identifying with them. We had yet to have an accessible internet that allowed us to see into the lives of our neighboring countries, let alone those countries that lie overseas. Anyway, on with it:

5) Doom – Total Doom (1989)
Released on Peaceville Records, who later had a huge falling out with the band but retained the rights to the album, this release collects everything essential by the legendary UK band. If you wondered where grindcore came from this is a good example of its infancy. Distorted bass and the relentlessly underproduced buzzsaw of guitars combine with breakneck drumming and some of the most distinctive vocals of any crust band ever. They were pissed, and they were also topical, much like Discharge but without the guitar solos or glam metal (yes, Discharge went glam for an album before coming back to their senses) period. Alongside bands like Crass, Dead Kennedys, and Napalm Death, Doom were also responsible for a TON of the iconic art styles in modern crust like the political collage and high contrast black and white cheap ass Kinkos flier style record innards. Might not be the top of my list but it’s equally essential.

4) Disrupt – Unrest (1994)
For about the first year that I listened to Disrupt’s Unrest, I was under the mistaken impression it was grindcore. That’s a random aside, but I was young and inexperienced and the copy I had was on Relapse Records, at the time an offshoot of the bigger worldwide Nuclear Blast. Back then Relapse were basically only putting out either grind or cavernous death metal like Incantation, Exit-13, Mortician, and Anal Cunt so you might imagine where I made that incorrect distinction. What Disrupt actually was, at the time, the most influential American crust band ever, alongside New York’s Nausea. If Doom was a grinding behemoth, then Disrupt was the scrappy and emaciated provocateur that started street fights and threw bottles at your fucking head. Thirty tracks of blistering crust that just slams your face into the mud and grinds it into the gravel. Distortion up your ass at 200 BPM.

3) Amebix – Arise (1985)
There was a time when I would buy anything released by Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles based solely on my love of his Dead Kennedys and respect for him as a proliferator of awesome politics and helium drenched spoken word. That’s how I came upon Arise which at the time struck me as more of a metal album than crust record. Something that makes sense given their association with groups like Axegrinder, Napalm Death, and Carcass. Musically, “Arise” is a tough thing to describe. Metallic and bass heavy and not even remotely close to the tempo of Doom or the like, the vocals were intelligible and sounded like a heavily accented gremlin. Their imagery an atheist driven idea of the apocalypse, spikes and shoulder pads and all. Enjoying that album paved the way for many other challenging listens I would encounter between then and now, and I think to this day Amebix remain the reason I was able to broaden my scope of what defined metallic and subversive music.

2) His Hero is Gone – 15 Counts of Arson (1997)
His Hero is Gone are about as dark as crust could get without breaching black/death metal territory. After falling in love with “Fifteen Counts of Arson” my perception of heavy music was totally altered. Sure I’d heard plenty of metal before them… Napalm Death, Carcass, Deicide, Obituary, Incantation, Morbid Angel, Terrorizor, etc, but I had never heard it integrated so seemlessly into hardcore or d-beat to create such a stiflingly dark and suffocating atmosphere. It was a compelling mix of enraged nihilism and vitriolic societal spite with raging guitar work that wove delicate melody into a storm of thrashing d-beat inflected metal. Vocally, it’s like an unholy amalgamation of Barney Greenway, Bolt Thrower’s Karl Willets, and Extreme Noise Terror’s Dean Jones at their most intensely incensed and pissed. The rhythm section hauls along with the guitar like a tank, creating a wall of sound that most bands of this ilk would kill to call their own. The whole package just oozes a stagnant atmosphere of disgust, betrayal, and rage creating a mood unlike any other crust album at the time in my opinion, and one that’s absolutely mandatory if you’re into stuff like this.

1) Nausea – Extinction (1990)
In terms of staying power, to my old ears, anyway, nothing surpasses “Extinction” by New York’s Nausea, who took NYHC inspired heft and combined it with the metallic hardcore and distorted metal stylings of west coast groups like Final Conflict, Septic Death, and Crucifix. The result was an edgy morass of defiant anti-religion, feminism, and animal liberation pundits and exclamations wrapped into a ticking bomb of deviant crust defined by pile driving rhythms and uber distortion that still managed to remain catchy and anthemic. Few groups in 1990 displayed such a focused intent on disrupting the status quo via attacking through musical deviance and snarling vocals, both male and female. There was also an uneasy psychedelia present in their music, which went lengths to add to their apocalyptic atmosphere and end of the world utterings. In my opinion nothing since or before has defined crust better than this album, making it an absolute necessity.

HIGH DEFAMATION’S ERIC BAUER is one of the best kept secrets in metal and movie blogging today. His knowledge base and frame of reference for all things heavy is unmatched. Click the hyperlink and follow this blog for amazing stuff!

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