I’ve loved heavyweight crust punk since I first heard bands like Discharge, Hellbastard, and Amebix adding metal to their respective visions of punk rock in the early 1980s. To this day, nothing satisfies my musical appetite more than some filthy battle-vested punk with a snarling metal accent. In recent years, Bandcamp has proven to be an absolute goldmine for finding plenty of pick-sliding punk ‘n’ metal miscreants, and I’m going to be highlighting a couple dozen firebrand punk/metal releases that I’ve been enjoying lately in this two-part Crusty Culprits feature here at Hellbound.
Below is the first list of agitators and noise-makers, and I’m hoping there’s something new for you to discover. I’m no expert on crust punk or metal, just a very enthusiastic fan, so feel free to suggest worthy bands of a similar ilk in the commentary box below. Thanks for reading—let’s get into the nasty noise.
Iskra – Ruins
In 2002, Canadian punk band Iskra recorded a demo that pretty much spawned the entire sub-genre of blackened crust punk. To be clear, plenty of punk bands had obviously been adding elements of extreme metal to their sound well before Iskra arrived on the scene. But Iskra’s injection of ice-cold Scandinavian black metal into out-and-out abrasive anarchist punk was a pioneering move at the time.
Iskra are still creating powerful and fiercely political music today. In fact, Iskra’s 2015 album, Ruins, is the band’s best release yet. Ruins features the punchiest production of any of Iskra’s releases thus far, and the album feels burlier and hits that much harder as a result. Capitalism is torn to shreds on Ruins, and all the revolutionary fire you’d expect from any Iskra release is front and centre on the album. However, the key to Ruins’ creative success is that all the incensed riffing and raging vocals provide both a crucial voice of dissent and a rip-roaring means of catharsis. Iskra matter now more than ever. Long may the band roar.
War//Plague – United in Darkness Split
Formed by a crew of punk rock veterans, War//Plague are one of those strong-willed and sledgehammering crust bands that are just impossible not to admire. There’s certainly no doubting the sincerity of the Minneapolis-based band’s message, or the bludgeoning might of their chosen delivery method. Musically, War//Plague combines a hearty dose of Scandinavian crust with a hefty amount of fist-in-the-air US squat punk. It makes for an unyielding combination, and all of War//Plague’s recordings are stacked with chugging tunes and rebellious roars. The band’s United in Darkness split with stenchcore crew Vastation adds more grime and grunt to the band’s already impressive discography, which I highly recommend you check out forthwith.
Black Hole Kids – Easy Masks
I have no idea what the cover of the new Black Hole Kids album, Easy Marks, is trying to tell us. But I guess that’s a perfect example of Punk Rock 101 in action. It’s that freedom that Black Hole Kids’ have to represent their work exactly as they see fit. Easy Marks is filled with a similar free-for-all musical attitude. The album mixes elements of hardcore, crust, and varying shades of metal. According to the band, Easy Marks deals with “the search for catharsis in the wake of anger and grief”. You can certainly hear that exorcising of painful demons in Black Hole Kids’ ragged and raw sound. Easy Marks is an album of both passion and substance.
Doom – Consumed To Death EP and The Chile Benefit Compilation
On April 16th this year, punk rock legends Doom were all set to play a concert in Santiago, Chile, when a rush of fans into the already packed venue resulted in a number of deaths and injuries. Doom has recently put together two benefit releases to collect funds for the families affected by the tragedy. The first is the Consumed To Death EP, which only features songs from Doom. The second is The Chile Benefit Compilation, which features 23 tracks from bands playing at an upcoming benefit concert in the UK that Doom has organised.
There are a lot of filthy and sawtoothed punk rock songs to be found on both releases, and I’d have no hesitation in recommending the music therein. However, more importantly, both the Consumed To Death EP and The Chile Benefit Compilation exist as a way for us to show solidarity and compassion. So, please, if you can afford it, help a punk out and donate to a good cause.
Thrall – Entropy
Thrall were an Australian black metal band that featured plenty of crust’s cragginess in their sound. Sadly, the underground band ended their run with their final three-song digital release, Entropy, earlier this year. Entropy finished off an all-too-brief career for Thrall, but much like the band’s closest sonic peers, Swedish trio Craft, Thrall were/are highly respected by a dedicated core of metal and punk fans.
It’d be fair to say that Thrall were very much a cult band, even in black metal’s shadowy realms. But high profile or not, Thrall produced some of the best black metal I’ve ever heard. If you’ve not indulged in Thrall’s wares before, Entropy is a good a place to start. After that, I’d suggest you listen to Thrall’s full-length albums, Aokigahara Jukai, Vermin to the Earth, and Away From the Haunts of Men. Then I’d suggest you repeat that action, ad infinitum.
Disbrigade and Warcorpse – Under The Shadow of the Bomb Split
Nothing alerts you to an incoming bombardment of old-school crust quite like ‘Dis-’ starting a punk band’s name. Those three letters pay tribute to OGUK crust champs Discharge, a band that’s inspired thousands of groups around the globe. Bands like one-man Ecuadorian outfit Disbrigade, who dish out ill-tempered lo-fi crust that’s heavy on the vintage stench on their new split, Under The Shadow of the Bomb.
Joining Disbrigade on Under The Shadow of the Bomb is one-man Greek band Warcorpse, whose discography you should really check out as well. Obviously, nothing says punk rock like a nasty and noisy split release, and Under The Shadow of the Bomb is the embodiment of sheer spiritedness running rampant over any fancy production techniques. Under The Shadow of the Bomb is crude as hell, and all the more wonderful for it. My advice: embrace the disorder and disarray. Always and forever. Amen.
Napalm Raid – 2010–2015
Canadian trio Napalm Raid are one of the heaviest crust punk bands around. They’re also one of the filthiest, and they sound utterly furious, all of the time. You can find Napalm Raid’s brain-battering releases scattered about on various labels and on various formats, but the band’s 2010–2015 release collects all of the music they’ve recorded thus far on one CD.
Honestly, I couldn’t recommend 2010–2015 enough. For fans of Doom, Extreme Noise Terror, and the heaviest end of the Japanese hardcore spectrum, Napalm Raid’s blown-out and bludgeoning sound is certain to appeal. However, for those who are new to the delights of brutal punk rock, 2010–2015 also happens to feature the kind of throat-slit vocals and bleeding-raw noise that defines the very best in pummeling d-beat and crust nowadays.
Disguise – Signs of the Future
Like Napalm Raid, Disguise build a huge wall of outright hostility with their sound. The band’s latest album, Signs of the Future, is ultra-heavy. Skull-crushingly heavy. Dirty and dank death metal heavy. And Disguise essentially deals in as much distorting and grinding noise on Signs of the Future as they do any actual music.
If squealing feedback and over-blown amplifiers appeal, and the ragged riffs and guttural vocals of bands like Pisschrist, Kromosom or Mauser get you fired-up, then the insane uproar heard on Signs of the Future is bound to do the very same. Highly recommended for lovers of madness, chaos, and genuine audio violence.
Halshug – Blodets Bånd
Crust punk has been endlessly reinterpreted and amalgamated with other musical styles over the years. But plenty of bands have also concentrated on refining rather than expanding crust’s sound. Case in point, the disagreeable Danish crew Halshug. You can forget any and all post-this-or-that experiments on the band’s latest release, Blodets Bånd. What you get is straight-down-the-line sonic punches to the head and torso—somewhat akin to Wolfbrigade in their prime. Blodets Bånd is best suited for when you’re in the mood for bare-boned and unrelenting aggression, because there’s not a single moment’s pause on Blodets Bånd. File under thunderous and trampling.
Rats Blood – Low Life
Rats Blood don’t spend any time easing you in gently on their debut full-length album, Low Life. But there’s really no surprise in that stance. The Dublin-based band had already impressed with a great demo in 2012, and 2013’s Punk is Mutants EP was even better. Both of those releases featured breakneck punk, heavy on the gutter grime and savagery, and those are definitely themes repeated on Low Life.
Low Life opens with a squeal of feedback, and then Rats Blood hurl whirlwind d-beat and hardcore at you without a scrap of mercy. There are only a couple of songs on Low Life that manage to edge past the two-minute mark, which should give you an idea of the kind of turbo-speed noise to expect. If the supersonic and thoroughly unsanitary end of the Scandinavian or Japanese punk scenes float your boat, then it’s best to grab Rats Blood while you can.
NO – Treating People Like They Don’t Exist
Eight songs in less than 13 minutes. That’s what to expect on London band NO’s album, Treating People Like They Don’t Exist. Eight dissonant and unorthodox hardcore tracks that pile on sheet-metal clangour and clatter until it all becomes one maelstrom of chaotic-and-coarse noise. It’s all pretty much perfect too. At least, it is if you’re looking for the kind of harsh and primal commotion that’ll give you a spontaneous nosebleed. Best thing is that, at 13 minutes, Treating People Like They Don’t Exist demands repeated listening.
Ramlord – S/T
I’ve been a fan of blackened stenchcore malcontents Ramlord since I first heard the band’s debut album, Stench of Fallacy, way back in 2011. Since then, the New Hampshire-based band has released a long-run of splits, and Ramlord’s sophomore full-length, 2013’s Crippled Minds, Sundered Wisdom, was a gloriously ultra-nihilistic cacophony.
In recent times, Ramlord’s vocalist and guitarist Jan Slezak has also been releasing lo-fi post-punk and black metal under the Leather Chalice moniker. (2014’s Sweet Perfume of Coffin Air being the perfect place to start with Leather Chalice’s discography.) This year, Ramlord dished out a super-scuzzy self-titled 7-inch via the always interesting label Broken Limbs Recordings. It might have only contained two tracks, but it was goddamn great to hear Ramlord vomiting forth their utterly deranged sludge, punk and misanthropic metal all over again. Roll on another full-length…before the apocalypse comes knockin’.
Check back soon for part two…