Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Varukers recording at Rich Bitch Studios 1984

This post was contributed by DIY lifer and rager Kalle Stietzel from Germany. Huge thanks to him for writing these words and allowing us to put up these awesome photos and letters!

In the summer of 1984, I took a trip from Germany to Britain to visit with pen pals and check out some gigs. It was an awesome trip back then. I think it was July or August, not sure anymore. It was great traveling around Britain for four weeks with a British rail ticket and visiting all or many of my best punk pen pals. I stayed at their homes, sometimes with their mum and dad, etc. as well.

One of the friends I visited during the trip was Anthony a.k.a. Rat from the Varukers. We had been exchanging letters since 1982. I stayed a few days with 'em. While I was visiting, the Varukers were recording three tracks at Rich Bitch Studios in Birmingham for the "We Don't Need Nuclear Force" comp. I was in the studio while they recorded the tracks!!! I took a bunch of photos during the studio recording. Tam (of Sacrilge) was also with 'em. Of course I got a personal copy of that demo tape. 

The photo of myself with the band was taken just before or after or the recording session by Tam. The rest of the photos were taken by me. There's also one that I took of Tam standing with the rest of the Varukers which is only a few months before they formed Sacrilege.
L to R: Tony May,  Damian Thompson, Kalle, Rat, Andy Baker
L to R: Tam, Tony May,  Damian Thompson, Rat, Andy Baker
Rat
Andy Baker
Andy Baker and Tony May
Damian Thompson

March 1982 letter p. 1
March 1982 letter p. 2
January 1983 letter p. 1
January 1983 letter p. 2

Varukers 1983 info sheet

Friday, July 19, 2019

Pusmort unreleased: Neuroot/Fratricide split LP

Pusmort Records was one of the most popular and choice labels of the 1980s, and deservedly so. Headed by the legendary artist Pushead, who was best known for his artwork for The Misfits, Metallica and Zorlac Skateboards, Pusmort epitomized the thrash sound that came following the initial burst of hardcore punk.

The roster largely represented a who's who of mid-'80s hardcore with US bands like Poison Idea, Final Conflict and Septic Death, British acts such as Sacrilege and Onslaught and Japan
's Gastunk and "Thrash Til Death" comp, among others.

But three planned releases never received a full pressing, with only a few test pressings created that are now highly sought after. These included an album by Ghoul Squad from Massachusetts, a US pressing of the Extreme Noise Terror/Chaos U.K. split LP licensed from Manic Ears in England, and a split LP between Neuroot from Holland and Fratricide from Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada.

Pusmort Records ad from Thrasher mag's May 1987 issue advertising the Neuroot/Fratricide split LP
Fratricide bassist Dan Walters (along with input from guitarist Eric) and Neuroot bassist Marcel were kind enough to discuss the story behind this cult release and all the details involving their affiliation with Pushead and the Pusmort imprint. Thanks to Daragh Hayes, Felix at Havoc Records, Simon at Ugly Pop, Craig at Schizophrenic Records and Flo at HeartFirst Records for helping this piece come together.

While the original intended version of these songs as a split LP has unfortunately never been released, both bands tracks from the split are available on separate releases here:
Neuroot "Right Is Might" 12" on Havoc Records
Fratricide "Pusmort" 12" on Schizophrenic Records (in cooperation with Ugly Pop Records)





NI: How did you come to the attention of Pushead?

Fr: Eric (Fratricide guitarist) was penpals with Pushead from back in the Boise days. He sent him a cassette tape with a rough mix of our demo, and Pushead said he wanted to press it as a split with Holland's Neuroot.

Neu: I sent him a letter asking him if he would be interested in releasing our material in the US. He really liked us (find enclosed his review in Thrasher of the "Right is Might" EP).

NI: Did he pick out Neuroot for the split or did Pushead? If you guys did, then how'd you get in touch with them?

Fr: Pushead already had the Neuroot material, they recorded it October 1985.

Neu: We didn't pick out anything, he did.

NI: Who proposed the idea of the split LP?

Fr: That was Pushead's idea. We were to be the next split after the Execute/Inferno split LP of '85.

Neu: He did. Initially, the split was going to be shared with Depression from Australia and then Fratricide, to give more value to buyers (that's all described in the Pushead letters). I don't know why they didn't make it; he didn't say in the letters I got. Was his idea.

NI: Was there art made for the LP?

Fr: Yeah, there was art done up by Squeal [British artist best known for Icons of Filth artwork—ed]. Black/white and red—can't remember what is was though.

Neu: We made some art. A friend of ours made it for our part of the split. Apparently Squeal from the U.K. made the overall cover art, but I've never seen it.

Original intended Neuroot artwork for the split LP
NI: Were you guys aware the LP was getting delayed?

Fr: Yeah, we were. We were told a few times over the next couple of years. That's why we didn't try to get it released anywhere else. We were told we'd have an interview in Thrasher magazine to coincide with the record's release, but that got put off too. It eventually turned into an article in the March '88 issue called Chord Grinds in a Cereal Bowl about skate rock bands, which used one of our photoshoot photos from China Creek skatepark here in East Vancouver.

Neu: Yes, he did but he kept on pushing the release date.

NI: Was any explanation ever provided for why it wasn't coming out?

Fr: I think there was a problem with the artwork not being able to be reproduced up to Pushead's standards. Something to do with the colour separations...? I also seem to remember hearing something about the pressing plant in France too.

Pushead also had sent Fratricide a big box of Thrasher swag and a bunch of Zorlac blank decks (we all skated lots back then) and offered tracks on the "Skate Rock" comps, so there was no animosity or anything. But I also think that stuff was more just Pushead and Eric's friendship over the years. Eric was definitely the go-to guy then.

Neu: No, none whatsoever then or later.

NI: Do you think this hurt the momentum of the band?

Fr: Well, it definitely had an effect on us. It prevented us from touring with no album release, although a few places had heard the test pressing and wanted us to play there.

Neu: Yeah, it reallly did. This was gonna be our break to be able to  get through to the international HC punk world via the US scene, be heard by a wider audience, like BGK (Holland) did when they toured the US and got their record out through another US label and stuff. This would have been a a major break for us, but it all went sour.

Test press side A (from the collection of Felix Havoc)
Test press side A (from the collection of Dan Walters)
NI: How many test pressings were made?

Fr: I'm not sure. Discogs says around 25.


Neu: Don't know.


NI: Can you explain how this led to the inclusion of Fratricide on Thrasher's 1988 "Skate Rock Volume 6 - Road Rash" comp? What session was this track taken from because it's not one of the songs intended for the split LP?

Fr: Pushead asked us if we wanted to be on the next "Skate Rock," but by this time the split recordings were over a year and a half old. We went into the studio in January to record one song for it... that was with a different final line up of the band. Ray from Unnatural Silence had just joined on vocals a month or so before, and Brad from Apostasy was on drums. We had only rehearsed with them for about a month or so too. I was never really happy with the way it came out or the sound quality either. Fratricide broke up after that.

NI: Did you know at the time of "Skate Rock Volume 6" that the split LP was off?

Fr: It was never really "off" as far as we knew; it just never came out. There was a song on the Pusmort sampler "Hand of Fear" 7" comp (1987), and a couple more songs on the "Pusmort View" CD comp (Japan) that came out in 1991–from the split recordings sessions (June 1986).

NI: Can you explain the whole inclusion of Headfirst on "Skate Rock Volume 7 - Noise Forest" and how that band was related to Fratricide?

Fr: After Fratricide broke up, I started a new project with Ray and Myles (ex-Unnatural Silence) on vocals and guitar, and Ken Jensen (ex-Red Tide, later to join D.O.A.) on drums. Eric jammed with Eugene (our old Fratricide drummer), Jinx and Gary (both who would later form Brand New Unit—Gary actually wanted to audition for Fratricide before Ray joined) and Jason Grant on bass... they formed Headfirst. I guess Pushead wanted to hear what Eric's new band was about, so asked them to be on "Skate Rock - Noise Forest".


Thrasher Skate Rock Volumes 6 and 7
NI: Did Pushead ever ask Headfirst to do anything with Pusmort or Bacteria Sour?

Fr: No... but Eric's next band Strain put out a 7" on Bacteria Sour [Pushead's label started after Pusmort—ed] in 1995.


NI: After the LP was permanently delayed, did you guys have any further contact with Pushead?

Neu: We never knew what the story was because he never told us. We went out of our way to contact him through the phone in the US, which was a big deal back in the day cause of the fact nobody we knew owned a phone connection and long distance phone calls were expensive as fuck and we were poor and skint as hell. I called his house several times but never got past his mother…hahaha (but no seriously!). After a year or so we gave up and never heard from him. That's why we give him a big Fuck off in the credits on the following LP, "Plead Insanity," which came out in 1988.

NI: Was the "Right Is Might" 7" the exact same recordings intended for the split?

Neu: No, the split was gonna be the four tracks off "Right is Might" plus two extra tracks from the same recording session: "World War III" and "Alarm". Felix put the whole session (six tracks) out on Havoc Records as a 12" re-release of the "Right is Might" EP.

Fratricide (March 1986) at the "Metal Wall" behind a 7-11
L-R: Jonzo (vocals), Eugene (drums), Dan (bass), Eric (guitar)
Marcel from Neuroot blazing in '87
NI: Any final thoughts on it or being part of the Pusmort label history?

Fr: Well, I'm definitely glad to have been a part of it, seeing as Fratricide was only around for just over two years. Everything happened so fast during that time—18 and carefree! We were only together and rehearsing for about five months before we recorded and then, Bam! Everything took off after that. I look back at those years as some great memories for sure.


Neu: Pushead in our opinion was a real fake who let us down big time and than got it on with Metallica (see the letter in which "The guys from Metallica really like Neuroot"). There are even people who state/suspect that Metallica (through their Pushead art connection) "stole" the Neuroot idea (off the "Plead Insanity" album that followed the "Right is Might"/Pusmort split) of the "Lady Justice" concept for the "And Justice for All" album cover, but I’m not sure about that. "Plead Insanity" did predate "And Justice for All" though. "Plead Insanity" will be released this year with a totally different cover. Be sure to check our website (www.neuroot.com or facebook site https://www.facebook.com/officialneuroot/) for this and other stuff.

Besides that, I gather now that he was friends with Fratricide and offered them quite a bit of "compensation" for this in giving them tracks on a few samplers he put out/was involved with and skate stuff like decks and so forth. We never got anything from him except three test pressings. I know the Pusmort label had a huge underground reputation, that's why we wanted to be on it, but there's no love lost here after all this. We were really hot and on a roll at that time (the "Right is Might" sessions are widely recognised as one of the highlights of '80s European HC punk) and deserved to be heard by a wider punk audience back then. If I had known this would be happening, we'd have talked to another US label, which would have been able to put it out there.

NI: Neuroot have recently reformed. What were your reasons for reforming, and what are your current plans?

Neu: In 2013 we reformed for a one off event in the Paradiso club in Amsterdam. Only since 2018 we are really up and running again, and in April 2018 did a new 12" vinyl album with new songs called "Obuy and Die!" on the German label Civilisation Records and did a tour of China in the North of China. In April 2019, we did a new 7" vinyl EP with five tracks called the "Nazi-Frei" EP on the UK/US Artcore Fanzine label. Also did a discography 2xCD called "Neurology" on the Japanese label Break the Records to coincide with our second Asian tour, this time to the south of China (Hong Kong/Macau), Taiwan and Japan. We will be touring with Doom (U.K.) in the latter part of this year. Plans for the next year are a visit to Asia again, the U.K. and central Europe. We wil be looking at further new releases with new songs the coming year as well. On the re-release of the old '80s records, there's the last one "Plead Insanity" who will get a really good re-release (with totally different covers and stuff) later this year/beginning of next year.


On the line up front, there have been several major changes: the old singer never made it back to the band from his reborn Christianship and the old guitarist left the band in 2018 after the release on the album "Obuy and Die!" On the drummer front, there has been little or no continuity in the past, but now no more with the current line up being: Marcel: bass and lead vocals, Ares: drums and backing vocals, and Frank: guitar and backing vocals.
Pushead's Puszone feature with Neuroot "Right Is Might" EP review from May 1986 issue of Thrasher mag

===================================

Marcel from Neuroot also carefully saved all his original correspondence through letters with Pushead and has allowed them to be displayed here. These are a great read and capture the excitement of hardcore through letter writing and tape trading in the 1980s.
Letter #1: November 29, 1985
Letter #2: January 4, 1986
Letter #3: March 18, 1986
Letter #4: undated 1986
Letter #5: September 20, 1986
Letter #6: undated 1986
Letter #7: March 22, 1987
Neuroot and Fratricide 12"s over Pushead's "Thrust" Thrasher mag shirt design
Pusmort label flyer included in the Septic Death "Kichigai" 7" (1988)

Monday, June 24, 2019

Tapping the Vein: Industrial Crust

Crrruuuuuuuusssst. The style that made being filthy fashionable. Like many offshoots of hardcore, crust came out in the 1980s, with British bands Antisect and Amebix being the first bands to really codify the sound. Before long, crust itself splintered into various sub-sub-genres such as crusty hardcore (Doom, ENT, Disrupt); grinding metallic “traditional” crust (Axegrinder, Misery, and Effigy later on), and many more mostly not worth mentioning.

One of the many offshoots was a fleeting style in the early-mid ‘90s that combined the thickness and filth of crust punk mixed with the harsh and abrasive repetitions of industrial bands like Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Swans and Skinny Puppy. The resulting industrial crust or "incrustrial" was a hypnotic and unrelenting, cold and distant sound. It was a natural turn in the evolution of the crust genre and paired two forms of music that went together like studs and leather.

At the same time bands on the punk side of heavy music were experimenting with industrial influences, so too were those on the metal side in a parallel progression. Head of David were possibly the first to do this, and their self titled LP from 1986 was the blueprint for many. Justin Broadrick famously left Napalm Death to join Head Of David before forming the most popular industrial metal band going, Godflesh. Pitchshifter were another in the fray, releasing their industrial metal debut entitled "Industrial" on Peaceville offshoot Deaf Records in 1991.

Within crust, it seemed like a spinoff that had the potential for long lasting prominence within the various sub-genres of crust — except that it didn't. Just as quickly as it came about, it seemed to fade away. The reasons are arguable as to why it never really took over. Was the industrial element too niche? Unlike heavy metal, thrash metal or goth, industrial wasn't something that had a huge amount of overlapping interest within the punk scene. Perhaps it was the rise in mainstream popularity of industrial bands like Nine Inch Nails, Orgy, and KMFDM in the mid-'90s that made the punk scene want to disassociate from it. Who knows. But it's safe to say that the industrial crust genre's potential was never fully realized.

But where did it all begin? The crossover between industrial and crust likely begins with Killing Joke. Their apocalyptic post punk appealed to everyone from punks and metalheads to fans of industrial and goth. With surprisingly high record sales for such an unusual band and even appearing on popular English TV shows like Tops of the Pops and The Tube, Killing Joke's influence was massive.

John Peel's influence on English music cannot be overstated. His radio show reached millions of listeners, exposing them to a wildly diverse array of non-mainstream music and led to cross-genre influences among many musicians. In addition to punks hearing industrial music, electronic and industrial musicians became aware of crust and grindcore also. The KLF heard Extreme Noise Terror on the John Peel show and contacted them to initiate a collaboration, which led to a new crusty version of The KLF's international hit "3AM Eternal," an infamous performance by the two bands on the Brit Awards, and an unfortunately never-completed album "The Black Room."

Early anarcho punk bands became interested in industrial music very early. Crass, already influenced by early sonic experimenters like John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen, had dabbled in electronic manipulation of their own on tracks like "It's You" or the almost-industrial "Birth Control 'N' Rock 'N' Roll." "Devastate to Liberate," a 1985 benefit album for the Animal Liberation Front on which Crass appeared with many industrial and experimental bands, was an important record in bridging the gap between punk and industrial. Flux of Pink Indians left their early anarcho punk sound behind, shortened their name to Flux, and teamed up with dub/industrial producer Adrian Sherwood of Tackhead for their dance oriented "Uncarved Block" album. Meanwhile, members of The Sinyx and Kronstadt Uprising went in a much heavier industrial metal direction, forming Sonic Violence.

Throbbing Gristle (and its offshoots Coil, Chris & Cosey, and Psychic TV) were denounced in the media as "wreckers of civilization," which of course helped to bring them to the attention of anyone who was tired of safe, mainstream "entertainment." A preteen Justin Broadrick (later of Napalm Death, Head of David, Fall of Because, Godflesh, Jesu, and a million side projects) was inspired by TG, later forming his first band Final due to their influence. The more directly political Test Dept, who were often involved in anti-capitalist and anti-fascist social causes (such as supporting the UK miners' strike of 1984–85) often mixed with English punks who supported similar causes. Australian transplants SPK, one of the first bands to mix industrial percussion with punk guitars, initially relocated to a London squat in 1980. Another Australian, Jim Thirlwell, was briefly based in England before moving his many Foetus projects on to New York.

A 1987 Swans show at The Mermaid in Birmingham was legendary in its intensity.  Playing through an extremely oversized PA in a relatively small room, the audience (which included members of Napalm Death and other Birmingham bands) experienced the sheer brutality of a slow, bass-heavy percussive assault, with the oppressive sound waves forcing the audience away from the stage as the walls and floor vibrated and allegedly debris rained down from the ceiling. Napalm Death's Swans sound-alike "Evolved As One" (the opening track on "From Enslavement to Obliteration") and Godflesh's entire early sound came directly from the Swans.

Influences also came in from continental Europe. The Swiss, but Swans related, Young Gods were also influential, combining harsh vocals with metal guitars and industrial dance beats. France's Treponem Pal, were one of the earliest bands to combine metal and industrial, sounding somewhat like a cross between Voivod and Young Gods. And in America, Ministry's growing popularity in the late 80s-early 90s was undoubtedly influential, with Ministry adding Discharge/Broken Bones founding member Tezz as guitarist for awhile.

A final note within the genre is that the pockets of bands playing this style came from cities that were also known for having influential industrial scenes. Industrial metal greats Head of David and Godflesh came out of the Birmingham scene which spawned Filthkick. New York City’s Swans had made their mark on the underground scene felt prior to Nausea. And San Francisco’s industrial scene was well known for Chrome, Subterranean Records, Nervous Gender, and others long before Depressor came along. Whether that’s coincidental, incidental or intentional is something others can speculate on, but cultural exposure can be a hell of a subconscious influence.

With all that said, here’s a closer look at the bands that played the genre and some of its critical releases...

This article was contributed to by the following powdered wigs: Brian DeMoa, Jake Kelly, Luc en France, Romain TSN, and Negative Insight staffers Max Furst and Erik SN.


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Deviated Instinct

"Nailed" EP with insert from 1990 on Prophecy Records
"You couldn't give those records away!" exclaimed one longtime U.K. head who was around to know while discussing Deviated Instinct. The band may have had detractors in their day, but history and modern tastes have been kind to them, as they're viewed as one of the integral bands of the crust genre.

Formed in 1984 in the eastern English city of Norwich, they first released the "Tip of the Iceberg" demo in 1986 (recorded in late 1985), which, with it's great art, was the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Showing signs of what was to come with an already filthy and raw sound, it also showed off guitarist/vocalist Rob "Mid" Middleton's excellent art that would help give Deviated Instinct such an instantly recognizable image.

Along with Mid, the band was mainly comprised of Julian "Leggo" Kilsby on vocals (until Mid took over when Leggo left in 1988) and Steven "Snapa" Harvey on bass, in addition to a constantly changing drum stool.

A second demo, "Terminal Filth Stenchcore," from 1987 helped to really establish the band and spread their name.  While "Terminal Filth Stenchcore" was recorded in October of 1986, it was quickly followed up by the seminal "Welcome to the Orgy" 7" recorded in January of 1987. It contained four songs, three of which were re-recorded demo tracks. The artwork on this EP was a brilliant stark and macabre pen and ink drawling that would define Mid's style throughout the era. The music itself is thick, filthy cruuuust with a thin buzzsaw guitar sound. There’s no other way to put it, as it’s the sound that largely came to define the entire genre. The EP also hinted at the most subtle traces of an industrial influence that would develop more later on.

"Welcome to the Orgy" wasn't just Deviated Instinct’s vinyl coming out party to the world; it also marked the first vinyl release by a band on Peaceville Records (who'd previously done a compilation 7" only). Formed by ex-Instigators and Civilized Society? member Hammy, Peaceville would quickly rise to prominence within the crust and metal genres. However, as Peaceville moved toward metal and abandoned traditional punk ethics for a more business-oriented approach (including signing a major label distribution deal with Music For Nations), a great amount of derision was caused within the ranks of those with hardline DIY values. This would best be displayed by Doom’s “Fuck Peaceville” double LP which was re-recordings of all their Peaceville era material.

While Deviated Instinct remained on Peaceville, the label ran a "Deviated Album Giveaway" for 20 autographed albums to be won in promotion of their second album, 1990's "Gutteral Breath". Such promotions were popular in metal, but were far out of place within a scene dedicated to alternative values and anti-rock star/icon  beliefs. It was especially relevant for a band whose first album (from 1988) had been entitled "Rock 'N' Roll Conformity" in a display of their stance on being anti-corporate rock and anti-music industry practices.


While the band did agree to participate in the giveaway, it was not without reservation. Mid recalls "This was something Peaceville talked us into, we always felt really awkward and foolish about anything to do with autographs. I mean why would anyone want their records spoiled by scribbles by a bunch of blithering idiots?? Anyway, in the end we just scribbled all manner of nonsensical and random guff all around the lyric side of the insert."

As the band's sound evolved, they continued to incorporate other elements. This is best seen on their 1990 EP, "Nailed," which was released by fellow crusters Prophecy of Doom’s own label, Prophecy Records. While the production is tighter and sharper than their preceding material, the stench and filth of their earlier deeds still reeks through. Sometimes reminiscent of weirder-mid-period Celtic Frost fused with the blossoming industrial ex-punks contemporary of the time. A subtle groove and bounce slips in under the crusty grinding riffage, hinting at the future to come. This is most noticeable on the track "Void", a true marriage of the old and the new.

At this point, Deviated Instinct disbanded into several other groups, all of which were heavily industrial influenced. Mid went on to form Spine Wrench; Snapa was one of the founding members of Optimum Wound Profile; and Leggo, who’d left in 1988, was playing in Filthkick. There’s no denying the influence and role that Deviated Instinct played on the short-lived genre of industrial crust.
===================================

Spine Wrench

Spine Wrench was formed in 1992 by former Deviated Instinct guitarist and vocalist, Rob “Mid” Middleton. The initial incarnation of the band also featured Jarrod on bass as well as former DI drummer, Charlie. Charlie played in Deviated Instinct for only a brief period, most notably present on Deviated Instinct’s final release, 1990’s industrial-tinged, “Nailed” 12”. Upon Deviated Instinct’s dissolution in the following year, Spine Wrench was born.

Spine Wrench seamlessly resumed the progression of Mid’s artistic vision at the time. Picking up right where DI left off on that final EP, this band offered a darker, heavier and more mature sound. The music and overarching style were still firmly rooted in crust, a genre Deviated Instinct had helped pioneer, but there were other elements being incorporated as well. The songs were driving and more bleak, the artwork stark and minimal. Above all Spine Wrench was a darker and more nihilistic musical offering than Deviated Instinct. The entire package fit in perfectly with the heavy underground of 1992.

Their first release was a split CD with New York’s Sin (featuring former Nausea vocalist Al Long). While Godflesh were clearly influences for both bands on the disc, Sin took it a step beyond by shamelessly cloning Godflesh in every way possible. Spine Wrench on the other hand managed to create a unique sound right out of the gate. This is namely due to the human drummer present throughout the recording. While the band would soon take a step closer in the industrial/electronic direction, this release ends up showcasing their influences of the time period without sounding derivative.

As opposed to the guttural approach that was prevalent around 1992, the vocals are raw, primal, and aggressive. Eerie guitar melodies float over the brooding rhythm, reminding the listener of other crust-graduate contemporaries of the era such as Zygote or Neurosis. Spine Wrench even manage to insert some groove elements without sounding contrived or nu-metal.

"Tapping The Vein" b/w "Barbed" 7" test press and full press versions with s/t 7"
After the release of this split CD, Charlie parted ways with the band, leaving just Mid and Jarrod to soldier on in a genre where the drum machine was not just socially acceptable, it was en vogue. (Funny side note: Upon his departure of the Spine Wrench, Charlie went on to spend the next decade playing in a ska-punk band called The Steptones.) Given that utilizing drum sequencers was right in the wheelhouse of the sound Spine Wrench was gravitating towards, it is safe to assume there was little grief on their end with this change. However, in losing a human drummer, Spine Wrench fell back into the mass of other bands at the time that aspired to capture the power and force of Godflesh. While still a solid offering, the subsequent release, “Tapping The Vein / Barbed” EP, sees Spine Wrench immediately lose some of that originality that made their initial offering shine as bright as it did.

As the years went on, Spine Wrench would continue to release four more EPs. Their sound would evolve slightly on each release, but never quite managing to fully set themselves apart from the other groups attempting this niche genre. The band began to find themselves again around 1994 on the “Heeldrag / Green As A Dying Whore” EP, inserting an bouncy industrial hook to their sound.

By 1995, Spine Wrench was now a solo project, featuring only Mid handling all aspects of the music. The final release was a split EP with the Japanese industrial metal band, Def.Master. Spine Wrench’s contribution to this record was the six minute track, “Cut”. While still wearing the obvious influences on it’s sleeve, this track rises higher than most the output prior to it as it harkens back to their earlier sound. Sounding desperate and lost, it is the band’s last gasp of rotten air on this toxic planet. Spine Wrench ultimately called it quits in 1996.

While Spine Wrench may not have reinvented the wheel, but the uniqueness of their vision is there if one looks for it. Mid always did know how to create some killer album artwork and his visual output with Spine Wrench was no exception. Each release with apt packaging, fitting the grim industrial vibes of songs within.

In the early 2000s, Mid would reunite with Snapa from Deviated Instinct/Optimum Wound Profile to form Bait. Playing a form of discordant crust, they released only two EPs and a full-length before folding and reforming Deviated Instinct together.


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Filthkick
 
The good thing about releasing a split with an immensely popular band is you’re part of a record that gets remembered. The bad thing is you’re almost always regarded as “the other band on that split.” Filthkick are definitely best known as the other band on their 1989 split with Extreme Noise Terror, but that’s not to slag ‘em off.

The band was formed by vocalist Julian “Leggo” Kilsby after he’d left his previous band, Deviated Instinct, and relocated to Birmingham. The initial lineup featured Leggo on vocals, Mark Bailey (Extreme Noise Terror, Excrement Of War, Wankys) on guitar, Jim Whiteley (Napalm Death, Ripcord, etc.) on bass, and Ben Mochrie (Cathedral) on drums. This line up is the one that released the split LP with ENT as well as a session recorded for John Peel’s BBC radio show. It’s a solid dirty, raw, crusty hardcore record. Shortly after the album release Ben left the band and played on Cathedral’s “In Memorium” demo from 1990. Stick from Doom and Extreme Noise Terror was brought in to replace him.

By the end of 1989, Filthkick dissolved in typical combustible punk fashion after rising tensions in the band came to a head. After the dissolution of Filthkick, Leggo recorded two crusty dirge tracks with Acrasy in August of 1990 in the vein of Deviated Instinct. However, he reformed Filthkick shortly after with new lineups. The first of these featured himself on vocals, Steve Hunt on guitar, Pete Nash (who’d left Doom and Extreme Noise Terror by this point), and Daz on drums. Daz was soon replaced by Clive Meldrum (of Police Bastard the band, not the EP) on drums. This lineup released a split 7” with Japan’s Rise From The Dead on MCR Company in 1992 and also recorded a second Peel session. Again the sound on this release was a crusty form of hardcore.

"Hand Crushed Heart" EP with "Punks Not Dread" comp LP



While Leggo’s new version of Filthkick was going on, the three remaining members of the initial version of the band, Mark Bailey, Jim Whiteley and Stick, were asked to record covers of classic punk songs to contribute to the “Punk’s Not Dread” LP compilation in 1991. These were recorded under the name Filthkick (Legless), a not so subtle shot at their former bandmate. The comp tracks were the only thing this version of the band did.

In the final version of Leggo’s Filthkick, Steve Hunt exited the band, and Pete Nash slid over to guitar while Neil Griffiths was brought in on bass. Leggo and Clive remained on vocals and drums, respectively. A number of gigs were performed and a demo for an album was recorded called “Roadchrist” for Desperate Attempt in the US. The album was abandoned by the label; however, Desperate Attempt did use three songs for the release of the single “Hand Crushed Heart.” This release saw the band taking an industrial-tinged direction with a mid-paced metal sound and a vocal style similar to Head of David. The music itself buzzes with an industrial hum, and while less pronounced than others covered in the article, the influence is still very much there.

Objectively speaking, this is one of the weaker industrial crust releases covered in this article, but it is certainly deserving of inclusion. Filthkick are another band from the Deviated Instinct tree along with Spine Wrench and Optimum Wound Profile. Are the other songs from the aborted “Roadchrist” LP out there? Will they ever be released? Who knows?


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Optimum Wound Profile

Formed in 1991, Ipswich, England band Optimum Wound Profile initially began as something of a continuation of Deviated Instinct.  After longtime vocalist Julian "Leggo" Kilsby left Deviated Instinct for Filthkick, guitarist Rob "Mid" Middleton took over vocals and the band moved towards a slower, more doom-oriented approach, with hints of industrial influences on their next record "Guttural Breath."  Following "Guttural Breath" up with the "Nailed" EP, Deviated Instinct continued in the style of the previous record, as well as showing more obvious electronic influences by including a Tubeway Army cover.

 
With Deviated Instinct seemingly having run its course, Mid, bassist "Steven "Snapa" Harvey, and drummer Charlie formed a new band with Extreme Noise Terror vocalist Phil Vane.  The new band, Bait, did not come to fruition though, but two new bands came out of it.  Mid and Charlie formed the industrial-influenced crust/metal band Spine Wrench, while Snapa and Phil formed their own band. 
 

Phil and Snapa were joined by guitarist Rocki Peck (from the Extreme Noise Terror-related Raw Noise), vocalist Simon Finbow, bassist Ian Barnard, and drummer Dom Cattermole.  The band took the name Optimum Wound Profile from a heading in the second chapter of JG Ballard's experimental novel "Atrocity Exhibition."
 

After recording two demos, OWP signed with Roadrunner Records, which had taken an interest in industrial-influenced music, signing Fear Factory and Skin Chamber, and had begun a business relationship with Gary Levermore's Third Mind Records, which released records by Front Line Assembly, Controlled Bleeding, In the Nursery, Will, and Intermix as part of their deal with Roadrunner.
 

OWP's debut album, "Lowest Common Dominator," was released in 1992.  In the early stages of recording, Dom was replaced by new drummer Niall "Vile" Corr.  Combining a wide variety of influences ranging from crust to industrial to noise rock, the very diverse record is reminiscent of Extreme Noise Terror vocally, but with discordant (but sometimes oddly melodic) guitar riffs not unlike Head of David at times, pounding drums, and many samples layered throughout the songs.
 

After a tour, lineup changes occurred with Snapa and Niall leaving.  They were replaced by Jason Whittaker of Whiteslug, with all beats now programmed and no live drums.  Jason immediately made his presence felt, with at least three songs on OWP's next release "Silver or Lead" being new versions of Whiteslug songs.
 

With new producer Colin Richardson, an experienced metal producer who had worked with Carcass, Hellbastard, Bolt Thrower, Fudge Tunnel, Napalm Death, and Fear Factory, among many others, OWP took a noticeable turn towards metal.  An intense record of nearly unrelenting extremity, "Silver or Lead" combines non-stop crust/metal heaviness with pummeling electronic beats and harsh samples.  The record only lets up on the acoustic, but very dark, "Modus Operandi" and a quiet, eerie untitled fifteen minute electronic outro.  Mid from Spine Wrench provided the record's memorable artwork in his unique, dark style.

"Silver or Lead" was released in 1993, and although arguably OWP's best record, it apparently did not meet Roadrunner's expectations and they were dropped by the label, which began to divest itself of all industrial-influenced bands other than Fear Factory.


OWP signed with German label We Bite to begin work on a new record, but Phil departed to rejoin Extreme Noise Terror.


In 1995, OWP released their third album "Asphyxia."  Far less metal than the previous record, "Asphyxia" is slightly more "accessible," but only by comparison to their previous work.  Simon's shouted vocals and the overall heaviness of the record keep the record from being too overtly accessible, but with more melodic parts, greater dynamics, some quiet songs, and far less crust and metal influences, "Asphyxia" sounds very different than the more metallic "Silver of Lead."   
 

After "Asphyxia," OWP began work on a fourth album, "Cult of Saints 1425," which never got beyond the demo stage as OWP broke up in 1996.
 

In 2007, Polish record label Metal Mind reissued "Lowest Common Denominator" and "Silver of Lead," and OWP reformed with Simon, Rocki, and Jason, plus new members Barnie Mills on bass and Malcolm Peck on drums, with the intention of finishing "Cult of Saints 1425."  However, the recording was never completed.
 

Although Rocki and Phil Vane reunited to work together again in Death Dealers in 2010, any hope of the early lineup of OWP ever reuniting ended with the untimely death of Phil in 2011 from a stroke at only 43 years old.
 

Rocki and Simon reunited with original OWP drummer Dom to form These Are End Times, and Jason and Rocki started independent label Antigen Records.  Original member Snapa was part of the Deviated Instinct reunion, and with bandmate Mid, formed a new version of Bait in 2003.  Although different musically than the original Bait would have been, things came full circle with the revival of the band name, returning all the way to the roots of OWP and Spine Wrench.
(Brian DeMoa)

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Saw Throat

The mention of the band Sore Throat in polite conversations can usually provoke two opposite reactions: the band's obnoxious sonic extremity and provocative sense of humour either makes you giggle like a schoolkid or sneer offendedly. And fair enough after all, since, as innovative as the idea of a 99 songs piss-taking noisecrust LP may have been in 1989, it still was a pretty immature – if funny – endeavour. However, Sore Throat are rarely remembered for the greatness of their "Inde$troy" LP that was released in 1989 on Bristol's crucial UK hardcore label Manic Ears Records. At that time, the lineup consisted of Rich Militia on vocals, Bri and Jon (from Doom) on the guitar and the bass respectively and of Hammy (founder of Peaceville Records and drummer for The Instigators) on the drums. "Inde$troy" was so much of a departure from Sore Throat's typical bursts of thrashy noise that they decided to release the album under the name Saw Throat.
1989 pressing of "Inde$troy" on Manic Ears
By 1989, the so-called UK hardcore scene – one that encompassed many different sounds – was already losing momentum, and bands, when they were not disintegrating, began to look elsewhere for inspiration. With its long atmospheric ambient parts and its crushing industrial moments, "Inde$troy" can be seen as one of the most remarkable and unique crust LPs of the '80s wave, although it paradoxically took the band to give up – momentarily – on their initial programme (basically pissing as many people off with fast unrehearsed chaotic hardcore noises and sometimes insulting lyrics) to achieve it.    

"Inde$troy" is a concept album of Dantean proportions. Made up of just one track, its writing was inspired by bands like Melvins, Saint Vitus and Swans, and I would argue that it is probably the closest we'll ever get to a crust opera (a terrifying description, maybe, but that somehow fits the work). The track is divided into different parts, like songs or movements that are seamlessly tied together with layers of keyboards, spoken parts, various shouts of pain, feedbacks, additional sound effects and even an actual chainsaw! As a result, "Inde$troy" generates its own vibe and ambience, a very peculiar atmosphere which confers a real narrative quality to a work which essentially tells an end-of-the-world story. The very dark, oppressive guitar riffs combined with the punishingly heavy, almost sludge-like pace (as opposed to Sore Throat's usual thundering speed), the aggressively gruff vocals enhanced by an unusually clear deliveries from Rich Militia (the insane screams on the opening of the first "song" were actually performed by Paul from Pleasant Valley Children) and the additions of thick layers of keyboards and industrial elements give the album an apocalyptic quality. The soundtrack of the impending collapse, indeed.

The interplay between form and content matters a lot here since "Inde$troy" contains none of the usual Sore Throat banter and sense of humour (on the contrary, they even apologize to Heresy and Active Minds in the credits) and focuses lyrically on ecology and how capitalism, in this case the marriage between the industry and human greed, destroys the planet. The lyrics' tone is angry and pessimistic and you could argue that the addition of brutal, machine-like sonorities and the inclusion of long keyboard parts reinforce the very gloomy and funebral aura of the work and the idea that steel is literally piercing through the Earth. It took the band three weeks to write and record "Inde$troy," which was an impressive amount of time for a drunken band like Sore Throat (for comparison, Unhindered by talent was recorded in just two days). It was produced and engineered at Lions Studios in Leeds between February and April of 1989 by Andy from Gold, Frankincense + Disk-Drive (he also provided the crucial keyboard effects) who used digital technology for the final mix on a sixteen tracks mixing desk. The production of "Inde$troy" is therefore impressive given the context and the übercrust sound of Sore Throat's previous – and subsequent – records. The nightmarish and demented-looking post-apocalyptic artwork, drawn by Steve Hutton (who went on to be an illustrator for children's books), is equally stunning and aptly illustrates the LP's music and words.

This heavy and slow grinding indus-infused crust masterpiece was first reissued on cd in 2004 by Rome's SOA Records and on vinyl (but with a strange blue colour for the cover) in 2007 through a collaboration between German labels Skuld Releases and Epistrophy, so you've got no excuse really.

(Romain/Terminal Sound Nuisance)


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Sonic Violence

Fans of anarcho punk will know the Sinyx from their cult favorite "Black Death" EP (self releases in 1981). However, as the hope and optimism for a better future during anarcho punk years dimmed bleaker and darker and the Thatcher Regime carried on, so too did the music. Former Sinyx member Dave "Auntie" Godbald was one of the people who's musical trajectory coincided with the political blight so many others felt. Auntie states in an interview with Fabryka, "The Sinyx had gradually become less political and more philosophical in outlook, matched to a darker, heavier musical style. However, I wanted to move/progress on further than I thought was appropriate with The Sinyx, so I shaved off my Mohican and formed Sonic Violence."

According to Auntie, the idea for the sound and image for Sonic Violence was to be a more vicious version of Killing Joke. An initial lineup was formed in 1986, but never worked out and folded by the end of '87. A new lineup consisting of two bassists for the purpose of having one “with as much bass tone as possible to shake the floor/intestines and the other with light strings and razor sharp treble to assault the ear drums and add an edge to my guitar” convened in 1988.

This second lineup initially consisted of former Kronstadt Uprising vocalist Spencer Blake on vocals, his brother Murray Blake on bass (also of Kronstadt Uprising, though not at the same time), fellow former Sinyx member Andy Whiting also on bass, Auntie on guitar and Elmer Barrett on drums. Unfortunately Spencer didn’t work out, so Murray and Auntie ended up sharing vocal duties. This solidified lineup would remain intact until 1991.

Proving their staunch DIY ethos remained unchanged, Sonic Violence self released their 1989 debut EP, "Sacrifice To Strength," on their Sound Violation Promotions imprint. With a thick, all encompassing cement mixer churn to their sound, the band were one of the forefront of this new heavy industrial style.

The band quickly caught the ear of former Instigators drummer, Paul "Hammy" Halmshaw, who by then was running the metal label Peaceville Records. Auntie recounts getting on Peaceville, "A mate of mine knew someone in Axegrinder, who were on Peaceville at that point, and suggested that I send in a demo tape. I did so and received a reply that said 'Fuck Yeah – I want to sign you immediately!' " This led to the release of Sonic Violence's first album, "Jagd" which came out in 1990. It was another dense and dark release with song titles including the likes of "Blasphemer," "Tortured" and "Symptom," among others on the seven song long player. Melding heavy music with a punk backbone and industrial, the album was a success to the point that Peaceville wanted more, and the "Casket Case" 12" EP quickly followed also in 1990.

Auntie recalls, "After 'Jagd' we had the choice of leaving Peaceville or signing a new four album contract. I wanted to leave, the others didn't and that all contributed to my departure from SV. I felt that Peaceville were stitching us up and wanted to see what other options were available to us – possibly Earache or one of the European labels, but a label less death metal orientated."

At this point, Bill joined on sampler, and the band moved further to an industrial influence and away from their punk roots. Founding member Auntie also exited the band. The band settled on an ensemble of just drums, percussion, sampler and bass. They embarked on a poorly promoted tour in support of their second album entitled Transfixtion (Peaceville/Dreamtime, 1992) and then went their separate ways with Peaceville.

The band soldiered on through 1994, self releasing a 12" called "The Blastecyst Mixes" 12" and a split 7" with U.K. industrial rockers Headbutt (both coming out in 1993). As mentioned, this period of the band had relieved itself from any real discernible punk influence, instead opting for a more straight forward industrial style. Material was completed for a third album, but it never came to fruition.

Attempts to reunite the band did happen. Auntie and the rest of the members, except for drummer Elmer, from the "Jagd" album reunited for some rehearsals, but nothing more came of it. Auntie states "I now have John (ex-Sinyx) as a replacement bassist and a possible drummer, so hope to be rehearsing again this summer. Material will feature the faster guitar based material and some new or previously unrecorded stuff."

(Negative Insight staff)


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"Grog" LP labels and "Grog The Next Mourning" demo tape
  Mortified

The least documented or known band in this article, Mortified formed in 1988 in  Honiton, England (located about halfway between Exeter and Bristol) and released their "Drivel" demo in 1991. As Luc over at Kängnäve wrote, "Their music itself is hard to describe: slow, dirgy, heavy and dissonant—there's elements of doom metal, crust, industrial, noise rock, an early Godflesh/Pitch Shifter vibe maybe, a little Amebix, although this isn't a remotely accurate description."

A second demo also from 1991 was entitled "Grog (The Next Mourning)". This demo led to an an intended LP (also to be called "Grog") on Sludge Records from France. The actual vinyl for this release was fully pressed (edition of 250 copies), but LP jackets were never made and the full LP never came out. (I’ve been told that if you write about the operations of Sludge Records you may be threatened with legal action, so that's all that we will write here.) It's a shame the release never came out because this is extremely strong material. Slow, grinding thick crust/doom metal with a slight industrial influence compared to other material. The song "Sad" is especially strong with haunting chanted vocals that alternate between male and female vocals sung over a metallic, hypnotic dirge. Truly terrifying music that sounds like it was recorded by Pagans in the moors of ancient Britain like only the English can do. The band themselves describe it as having a “huge oscillating bass sound, metronomic doomy drum patterns, dischord guitars and post modern-esq eerie female vocals. Urban-industrial blended with '70s doom rock.”

Mortified also regularly played gigs, including a slot opening for Hellbastard in 1992. A final recording session called the "Stress" was recorded in 1995 before the band dissolved in '96 with unfulfilled potential. They would have fit in very well with Peaceville/Deaf Records, Rise Above or Earache, and it’s a shame that nothing came out. It's both puzzling and a shame that a band that existed for nearly 10 years would have such little physical representation.
(Negative Insight staff)

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 Nausea

Hailing from New York City, Nausea are far and away the best known band featured in this article. Their 1990 LP, heavily influenced by British hardcore bands like Antisect, sold thousands and was a staple in any punk record collection during the 1990s. As many British punk bands dabbled with reggae influences, so too did Nausea with an extended, trance inducing reggae break on the song “Sacrifice” from said LP. 

In the late ’80s-early ‘90s, NYC was seemingly a perfect breeding ground for a cross pollination between the industrial and crust/anarcho punk scenes. With bands like Nausea and Jesus Chrust not only sharing stages and participating in activist groups with, but sometimes even living together in Lower East Side squats with industrial bands like Missing Foundation and Black Rain, some crossover was inevitable. Although, for a variety of reasons, it didn't happen as much as it could have, there were some interesting musical hybrids.

Nausea "Lie Cycle" EP with Riot #6 zine as backdrop. (Photo by Luc)
Nausea’s willingness to incorporate other styles of music was again seen on the title track of their 1992 EP, “Lie Cycle”. Brooding and dissonant, the track has the sterile coldness of a warehouse meat locker. While having almost no melody, there’s a hypnotic lock groove that forces the listener to nod along. It’s a standout track in the catalog of one of crust’s most highly regarded bands.

While “Lie Cycle” appears on the final Nausea release, it also foreshadowed what was to come from Nausea vocalist Al Long. Shortly after Nausea’s ending, he formed Sin, a group heavily influenced and in line with the industrial metal of Godflesh. While lasting briefly and releasing only a split CD with another band covered in this article, Spine Wrench, Sin took the industrial sound established on “Lie Cycle” and continued to expand on it. For fans of this style, it may be worth seeking out. However, nothing can top the industrial churn heard on “Lie Cycle”.
(Negative Insight staff/Brian DeMoa)

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 Depressor

"Why Must We Die For Your Palate?" 7" comp insert
Depressor has existed in various incarnations since 1992 as the brainchild of Chris Oxford, a onetime Metallica guitar tech and an obsessive fan of heavy metal obscurities. Oxford's musical vision began as a solo project inspired by the likes of Amebix and Godflesh while retaining enough of its own eccentric personality—familiar, but hardly derivative. Depressor issued several demo recordings between 1995 and 1997; Fuck Yoga Records reissued two of them as the "Filth/Grace" LP in 2014. Most punks turn up their noses at the very words “drum machine,” but these demos stand up to anything else emanating from the San Francisco underground at the time. Depressor also recorded an LP in 1995 that went unreleased for over twenty years until Fuck Yoga came to the rescue yet again. This session captures Depressor at its best, delivering a haunting hybrid of industrialized metallic riffs and ice-cold programmed beats. Six songs that are positively nightmarish in a way that most crust bands fail at attempting. One can only wonder of the places the Bay Area’s punk/crust/grind scene might have gone had a label such as Prank Records or Life is Abuse released this in the mid '90s. Perhaps folks might have mentioned Depressor in the same breath as His Hero is Gone or Dystopia… who knows?

Chris expanded Depressor to include a full lineup in 1998; the band made its live debut at Mission Records in 2001. Adding a live drummer compromised Depressor's industrial influence in favor of a more straightforward apocalyptic crust sound that eventually verged on black metal territory. Although the full band was great—2004's "Book of the Dead" double EP with Death Angel's Andy Galeon on drums is particularly crushing—I still wondered about what could have been had they retained that industrial edge of the early recordings. Regardless, the Fuck Yoga reissues now exist to finally realize Chris Oxford’s euphonic effort in its intended medium—if I can think of anyone who deserves such a reward for their hard work, it is certainly him. Why it took someone from Macedonia to recognize what Bay Area labels never did is beyond me.

 (Jake Kelly)


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 Other Bands


The following bands could loosely be considered as having a sound that incorporates punk/crust and industrial, although for various reasons they didn't fit within the parameters of this article quite enough for inclusion.

Pitchshifter - Discussed in the introduction of the article. Industrial metal band that released many records with their 1991 LP
"Industrial" on Deaf Records being the best.

Execrate - Supposedly there's a demo from the mid-1980s. The band featured one future member of Deviated Instinct and another who was in the original version of Pitch Shifter. The demo is said to be very Amebix influenced. (Not much to do with industrial.)

Skin Limit Show - Released a 7" EP and album in the mid-'90s. The album ("Wound Freeze") sounds like early Pitchshifter mixed with Optimum Wound Profile. Also contains a former Pitchshifter member plus members of UKHC bands Meatfly and Hard To Swallow, among others.

Hybernoid - Industrial metal band from England that existed from the early through mid-1990s. They had three albums and three EPs.

Sin - Post Nausea project for Al Long with a heavy Godflesh influence that also featured Javier Villegas of Born Against. Discussed in the Nausea section of this article. They released a split CD with Spine Wrench in 1992.

Feed - From Sweden with former members of Dom Där, Slaktmask, Tolshock, and Warcollapse. Pretty '90s commercial sounding despite the lineup.

Counterblast - When G-Anx ended, two members formed Counterblast. Raging Swedish crust with a Neurosis and other influences.

Contropotere - Long running 1980s-1990s Italian anarchist band. Their final album, "Cyborg 100%," from 1994 has an industrial influence among other styles.

Mone¥i$god - Japanese band existing in the 2000s with the former vocalist of Asbestos. They’ve released two albums thus far.