Crusty Culprits, part three

Welcome to Crusty Culprits #3, where I shine a light on some rough fvckin’ diamonds from the world of D-beat, crust, hardcore, and all punk rock points in between. In recent years, Bandcamp has proven to be a goldmine for finding pick-sliding punks, so that’s where Crusty Culprits’ pool of provocateurs is drawn from. Thanks a bunch for reading, and keep an eye out for more Crusty Culprits features in the near future.

Bandcamp crust, volume three

Victims – Sirens


Long-running Swedish crust crew Victims sound as angry as ever on their sixth album Sirens. Hell, truth is, Victims have never sounded so in-your-face and enraged as they do right here. A lot of that is down to the fact that Sirens features the band’s biggest and burliest production thus far—so cheers to Fred Estby and famed sonic wizard Brad Boatright for that. Sirens is a no-holds-barred riot of D-beat, crust and hardcore, and it features some of Victims’ most punishing and intense songs yet. Expect shout-along vocals, giant jagged hooks, and 100% explosive anthems. A+ battering crust for oldies and young ‘uns alike.


Nomads – Love It or Leave It

(Melotov Records)

Speaking of explosive anthems, outlaw LA punks Nomads’ Love It or Leave It album is jam-packed with ultra-violent, ultra-pissed off, and ultra-distorted hardcore. Nomads points to Motörhead, Discharge, Anti Cimex and Japan’s Gauze as prime influences, and Love It or Leave It is pretty much the perfect representation of what happens when you smash those influences together at hurricane speed. With a massive “wall-of-crust production” thanks to Taylor Young (Nails, Xibalba) and Brad Boatright, Love It or Leave It dives deep into drugs, crime, and life on the mean fvcking streets in the City of Angels Devils. (Love It or Leave It also features a couple of ripping crust-caked covers, including a whirlwind version of The Sisters of Mercy’s “Lucretia, My Reflection” as you’ve never heard it before.) Unquestionably one of 2016’s best punk releases.


Storm of Sedition – Decivilize

(Profane Existence, Neanderthal Stench, Doomed Society, Criminal Attack, and Black Raven Records)

British Columbia-based insurgents Storm of Sedition use the tools of capitalism to spread their “hatred of civilization, domestication, and control” and to promote “resistance to the techno-industrial capitalist system.” (So far so steadfast anarchist, much like Storm of Sedition’s similarly hard-hitting crust/metal comrades Iskra.) Storm of Sedition are committed to fight till the end, though, and they’re not interested in reforming society at all. Storm of Sedition want to tear the whole fvcking thing down, and their Decivilize album delivers that incendiary message while wrapping fierce communiqués in black and death metal and then slathering all in a thick layer of feral crust. TL;DR: über-incensed anarchic punk for the arsonist in all of us.


Polis-Äckel – Worldwide Death Culture

(Imminent Destruction Records)

Polis-Äckel’s Worldwide Death Culture demo is an older release than the rest of the noise on this Crusty Culprits list, but it’s included for two important reasons. First, Polis-Äckel deal in the kind of blown-out and volatile D-beat that has to be heard to be believed. Seriously, if you thought System Fucker or Disclose had the max-reverb, max-speed, and max-distortion game sewn up, Worldwide Death Culture is going to be a wakeup call. Second, UK label Imminent Destruction Records released Worldwide Death Culture, and there’s no doubt that the label deserves a right (anti-)royal shout-out for their ever-expanding catalogue of frenzied punk releases. Check ’em out forthwith. Polis-Äckel is the tip of the rancid punk iceberg.


Kriegshög – General 7-inch

(La Vida Es un Mus Discos)

Another great Japanese punk release from another great label. In this case, it’s the General 7-inch from Tokyo punks Kriegshög. The band released their head-smashing self-titled first album back in 2010 via London label La Vida Es un Mus Discos (in conjunction with famed Japanese label H:G FACT), and if chaotic bass-driven Nippon hardcore appeals (and why wouldn’t it, huh?), then Kriegshög’s debut is an album you must hear/buy/steal/otherwise acquire. Kriegshög’s General 7-inch is another hyperspeed dose of ear-splitting and bass-heavy hardcore that’s also mandatory listening. But it’s also only one of many awesome releases by La Vida Es un Mus Discos. Make sure to check out the label’s Bandcamp page for excellent recent releases from the likes of Rixie, Barcelona, Belgrado, and the boot-stompin’ crew next on the list.


Arms Race – New Wave Of British Hardcore

(La Vida Es un Mus Discos, Painkiller Records)

Well-regarded UK punk bands like Arms Race, The Flex, and Violent Reaction have incorporated a lot of U.S. hardcore influences into their releases and spurred the NWOBHC movement on in the process. Arms Race’s first demo in 2013, and their equally hailed 7-inch EP in 2014, seriously stoked the fires of anticipation for their debut full-length. The band’s aptly titled New Wave Of British Hardcore is well worth the wait. It’s loaded with Arms Race’s patented mix of breakneck ’ardcore and teeth-kicking Oi!—a sound vocalist Nick Sarnella has noted as evoking “GBH with mosh parts.” New Wave of British Hardcore certainly displays the grit and unruly front of UK82, but there’s a fair chunk of metallic muscle (think Agnostic Front and co.) in Arms Race’s guitar sound too. New Wave of British Hardcore hurtles, stomps, and pummels in equal measure. A welcome kick in the teeth, mate.


Ursut – Köp Dig Leckie

(Phobia Records, Not Enough Records, La Familia Releases, 4490 Records)

I’ll tell you who else has a roster loaded with ferocious bands: Czech label Phobia Records. That’s where I discovered Swedish crusty hardcore quartet Ursut. The band’s second album, Köp Dig Lycklig, is loaded with tar-thick and heavyweight crust that’s got a fair amount of sludgy doom embedded in all the D-beat. Lyrics are in Swedish, but even if you’re not a speaker of that language you’ll soon get the gist of things within seconds of Ursut unleashing a tirade of pulverizing metallic noise. Köp Dig Lycklig doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but I doubt that was Ursut’s intention. What the album does do, for me anyway, is highlight just how unfailingly addictive all that Scandi käng, D-Takt and råpunk is.


Vanity – Don’t Be Shy

(Katorga Works)

I loved Vanity’s Vain in Life debut from back in 2014. Still do, actually; it’s a latter-day New York punk rock classic. Vain in Life mixed spiky Oi! with even spikier street punk, and it had hooks galore, but Vanity’s new album, Don’t Be Shy, takes a swerve in a new direction. There’s still plenty of punk here, both in philosophy and practice, but Don’t Be Shy also brings melodic pop, glam, and no-frills rock ’n’ roll to the fore. That might be an issue for anyone wanting a repeat of Vanity’s aggressive formula on their debut. But placing their feet in both the street punk and swaggering rock ’n’ roll camps on Don’t Be Shy hasn’t seen the Vanity lose one iota of their charisma or lessened their capacity to write incredibly catchy tunes. Yes, Don’t Be Shy is different, but rest assured, Vanity still kick ass.


Okkultokrati – Raspberry Dawn

(Southern Lord)

At this point, you’d be hard pressed to isolate the strain of punk that Norwegian band Okkultokrati play. I mean, there’s no question the band deal in underground punk. But over the course of three previous full-lengths, Okkultokrati have morphed from an off-kilter albeit clearly metal-fuelled hardcore group into some kind of post-punk/avant-punk hybrid, maybe? Point being, Okkultokrati’s new Raspberry Dawn album is punk as fuck in its absolute refusal to adhere to any rulebook. Label Southern Lord’s liege lord, Greg Anderson, has said Raspberry Dawn brings visions of “Bauhaus and Darkthrone listening to Joy Division albums by torchlight in the dark forests of Oslo.” That’s a good summation. But you can add a heap of blown-out rock, classic metal, hard rock, darkwave, and plenty of acid-fried psych into that mix too. Raspberry Dawn is way out on a limb, and then some. It’s a poke in the eye, with a very sharp stick, for anyone who said that punk is old, tired or static.

Internationally published writer, columnist, and radio producer.