Crusty Culprits: CRUST PUNK FROM BANDCAMP, Part Two

Welcome to part two of this Crusty Culprits feature. The point of the lengthy list below is to highlight a bunch of steel-edged punk rock that I’ve been enjoying in recent times. I stumbled on most of the bands featured here while exploring Bandcamp, and the majority of them are crust punk groups, because that’s that kind of filthy noise that appeals to me most of all. Feel free to recommend me any more recent crust punk in the comment box below. Cheers for reading. Let’s get into the tunes.

Anopheli – The Ache of Want

Released on the always compelling Halo of Flies label, The Ache of Want is the second album from melodic crust band Anopheli. The band’s debut, 2014’s A Hunger Rarely Sated, featured moments of heart-wrenching beauty, which obviously isn’t something you can say about crust punk very often. However, Anopheli set the cello as a leading instrument in their songs, which adds a moving and often mournful element to the band’s tempestuous sound. The result is crust punk that is dramatic and deeply emotional.

Of course, it’s no surprise that Anopheli make such affecting music, because the band features members from soul-stirring bands like Fall of Efrafa and Light Bearer. You can expect heavy-duty d-beat and crust mixing with spellbinding neo-classical melodies on The Ache of Want. You can expect passion, grief, and a purging of agonies. You can expect another soaring triumph from Anopheli.


Perspex Flesh – Ordered Image

Perspex Flesh features members from UK punk bands The Flex and DiE in the ranks, and both of those bands have issued storming releases in recent times. Perspex Flesh dwells in far stranger places than The Flex or DiE, often roaming the kinds of oddball musical landscapes that bands like Rudimentary Peni or Crass once tread. Perspex Flesh’s new album, Ordered Image, is ice-cold, weird, and often dissonant, and there’s a stronger pulse of brooding post-punk here than in Perspex Flesh’s previous works. Ordered Image is highly recommended if you’d like a heavy dose of dementedness wrapped around raw and biting punk rock.


Absolut – Punk Survival

Sometimes it’s the rawest, ugliest and most fuck off punk rock that hits home the hardest. Like the seriously fuck off music created by Canadian crust punks Absolut. The band’s Punk Survival album from 2014 is one of the finest pieces of audio insanity I’ve ever encountered. And Absolut’s 2015 release, Hell’s Highest Power, upped the anti-fucking-everything quota by 666%. Essentially, Absolut murder music. The band shoves their songs through a sonic grinder, and then douses everything in accelerant, lights a match, and cackles hysterically while it all burns. Absolut is unquestionably raw, manifestly ugly, and absolutely the fucking best.


Crutches – FörlOrAD

To produce consummate crust, you need to hit three points on the punk rock map. The first point is in England, to grab a little of Discharge’s venom. The second is in Japan; hello Disclose’s intensity. And the third point is in Sweden, where Anti Cimex’s ultra-aggressive d-beaten madness lurks. Add those influences up, and that’s the sound of Swedish band Crutches.

Crutches second album, FörlOrAD, is a raging beast from start to finish. It’s also remarkably uncomplicated––which isn’t a criticism at all. In fact, I’d rank FörlOrAD as one of 2015’s best punk releases because it is so straightforward. It sounds massive, hits like a runaway freight train, and all rabid howls and growls therein come with a fiercely political bite. All you can really do is hang on tight while Crutches dispenses blistering broadsides of pummelling punk rock. Consummate crust—guaranteed.


Drap – En Naturlig Död

Some crust bands like to smash their influences together so their sound becomes a mangled wreckage of noise. That’s certainly the case with Swedish DIY crust crew Drap. There’s a jumble of influences fighting it out on the band’s debut, En Naturlig Död, but death metal is clearly leading the charge. There’s a sawtoothed tone to En Naturlig Död that nods to Ye Olde Bolt Thrower, which gives the album a weighty propulsion, but there’s plenty of black metal, grindcore and old-school Scandinavian hardcore to be heard in Drap’s red-raw crust too.


Seeds in the Barren Earth – Let the Earth Be Silent After Thee

I love a high-speed metallic punk salvo that knocks me off my feet. But the bruising punishment dished out by bands like Nux Vomica or Downfall of Gaia on their lengthier soundscapes is often just as cathartic. This year, one of the best examples of punk and metal fusing on similarly long-form songs can be heard on Seeds in the Barren Earth’s latest soul-stirring opus, Let the Earth Be Silent After Thee. There you can hear the Swedish blackened crust band take inspiration from groups such as Iskra, Tragedy, Neurosis and Darkthrone, creating an album filled with enthralling, multi-layered songs.

Seeds in the Barren Earth deal in issues aligned with the green anarchist movement, and Let the Earth Be Silent After Thee duly explores the “pathology that is human civilisation.” Let the Earth Be Silent After Thee is a very dark release, and it presents an expectedly bleak picture of humanity, but the album is also a big, bold, and ingeniously composed release that offers more rewards with each and every listen. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a punk band painting on a far larger canvas.


Ast and Ancst – Split

Ast are a crusty black metal band. Ancst are a blackened crust band. Both are German. And both wholeheartedly express their shared progressive ideologies. You might think that voicing political opinions is par for the course in the crust punk realm. But there are plenty of bands that don’t express any political messages at all. Obviously, that suits those folks who don’t want any politics mixing with their music just fine. But I’m not one of those folks.

I love crust punk that spits in the face of the powers that be. I think angry music made by rabble-rousers makes for a smashing good time all of the time, even if the lyrics aren’t in a language I readily understand. It’s the intent I love. The purpose. The disobedience. The rage. And if you think the same, then the fired-up tracks crafted by Ast and Ancst on their 2015 split will likely tick all the boxes for you too.


Vorgär – Sceptic Faith

It was the umlaut in Vorgär’s name that first drew my eye. I mean, you have to have a shortcut when you’re trawling Bandcamp for hours. An umlaut works. So does any Dis-this-or-that band name. Or a poorly photocopied photo of a mohawked punk in a studded jacket. But what also worked in Vorgär’s favour was the fact that the band are from Hungary, and I was pretty sure I’d never heard a Hungarian crust punk band before.

To be honest, judging musical competency isn’t my first thought when listening to a lot of crust punk. Sure, it’s great when a band is, you know, proficient—even if that’s proficiently sloppy and scrappy. But I’m also incredibly interested in hearing how bands from all corners of the globe interpret crust punk through their respective cultural lens.

In the case of Vorgär, what you get on the band’s debut, Sceptic Faith, is ten-tonne sledgehammering crust that’s a bleak and grey as a crumbling factory town. The kind of pounding noise that’s heavy on the Doom and Hellbastard worship, with a little His Hero is Gone viciousness thrown in as well. Sceptic Faith isn’t flawless, but it’s clearly a perfect representation of the band members’ lives and frustrations. And therein lies what makes it so good. It’s rough. It’s crude. It’s coarse. It’s honest.


Muerte – Muerte

In 2014, Mexican punk band Tercer Mundo released their phenomenal debut full-length, Ser Nosotros Mismos. If you’ve not heard that album, you should take all steps to track Ser Nosotros Mismos down because it contains some of the most intense and bleeding-raw hardcore I’ve ever heard. Mexico City punk band Muerte shares members with Tercer Mundo and another wonderfully feral Mexican punk outfit, Inservibles. Muerte’s self-titled debut released earlier this year is definitely an album you should be dedicating time to.

Like Tercer Mundo, Muerte are adept at bringing lo-fi hardcore’s ferocity to the fore. But Muerte add a hefty amount of goth rock and deathrock to their sound via often sinister and skittery riffs and propulsive bass. Muerte is a foreboding album, and it mixes deep and dark gothic tempos with speedier and sterner hardcore sections for a dynamic sound overall. If you’re a fan of the abrasive end of the gothic rock spectrum, Muerte is well worth your time.


Vaaska – Todos Contra Todos

Texas band Vaaska shares members with groups such as The Impalers, Mammoth Grinder, Power Trip, and Criaturas. And every one of those bands has released formidable music in their own right. In Vaaska’s case, the band released its rip-roaring debut in 2010 (see Ruido Hasta La Muerte), a killer EP in 2011 (Condenado) and couple of riotous 7-inch splits with The Impalers and Skizophrenia! in 2013. All are well worth tracking down, especially if rough-hewn and pell-mell d-beat appeals.

This year, Vaaska dropped a brand new full-length,Todos Contra Todos, and it was more than worth the wait. Todos Contra Todos was as unyielding as ever, and stacked with blown out d-beat and crust, vitriolic vocals, and scorching solos. But Todos Contra Todos also sounds more rugged than the past. Brawnier. With thicker guitars and a more muscular rhythm section. Essentially, Todos Contra Todos is flawless in its delivery. From the caustic production to the meteoric mayhem therein, I couldn’t recommend Todos Contra Todos highly enough.


Pure Disgust – Chained

Chained is the latest release from Washington, DC punks Pure Disgust, and it’s another jewel in an increasingly long line of punk rock gems from label Katorga Works. Chained is punchy yet melodic, and every breakneck tune has a gigantic hook. But, crucially, Chained also presents an uncompromising view of society via the lens of “the collective suffering and frustrations of Black America.”

Chained is simply too important an album be to missed. Musically, Pure Disgust hold their own against sterling bands like Ivy, Ajax, Vanity and Creem, who have all had fantastic releases on Katorga Works in recent times. However, it’s that voice that Pure Disgust bring that matters. That perspective. That truth. No matter how uncomfortable it may be. Chained is worth your time because it has meaning—a rarity in this day and age.


Visitor – High Speed Savage

If you made it this far on the list, then I’m guessing, like me, you’re always on the lookout for new music. Perhaps, also like me, you’re a bit of a music nerd, someone fascinated by the minutiae of music, no matter how trivial those details might seem to others.

If that’s the case, and you’ve not explored the Japanese punk scene before, then you have some serious fun ahead of you, my friend. Japanese punk has a long history, a very deep pool of artists, and a huge amount of seriously obsessive fans. I’m not one of them, at least not quite yet, because I still feel like I’m only chipping away at the edges of the scene.

There are plenty of well known Japanese punk bands: see Gauze, L.S.D, GISM, Disclose, The Stalin, Guitar Wolf, and all the usual suspects. But then there’s such a massive range of fiercely underground DIY bands that it’s like a never-ending treasure trove when first hearing bands like Framtid, Bastard, Unholy Grave, Gloom, Crow, Kriegshog, Zoe, Contrast Attitude, D-clone, S.D.S, System Fucker and… well, you get the point.

There’s nothing more fun than spending a few hours late at night seeking out new tunes, which is how I discovered most of the bands for this two-part feature, including Japanese hardcore band Visitor. The band’s High Speed Savage album is exactly that: high speed, and markedly savage. Visitor describe their music as “electro psychic raw noise hardcore,” which sounds spot on to me. High Speed Savage is definitely raw and noisy, and features absolutely insane guitar leads and even crazier percussion. Best of all, like all the greatest Japanese punk rock, High Speed Savage sounds utterly unstoppable. Dig in. Now.

If you missed Crusty Culprits, Part One, be sure to check it out here.

[“I Heart Crust Punk” image credit goes to CrashyBandicoot]

Internationally published writer, columnist, and radio producer.