Review Summary: Decent, but flawed in some pretty big ways
If you haven't heard of this album, I don't blame you. I hadn't heard of it until I came across the term "crust punk" and felt the need to check it out. For those of you in the dark, crust punk is the amalgamation of aggressive hardcore punk, trash metal riffage, and dirty hippies (a.k.a. crusties) screaming about fascism and political action. It's a sound that had an enormous influence on future grindcore, with bands like Napalm Death
taking a lot of their sound from more aggressive crust punk bands like Extreme Noise Terror.
If that description is making your little metalhead mouth water, don't feel the need to read any more. No amount of criticism will mean anything to you if you like thrash and hardcore, but for those of you who aren't quite sold yet, let's go on.
The album opens with "Deceived", which wastes no time getting straight into everything good and bad about this album. A brief moment of fuzzed out, distorted bass, and a burst into drums that sound like a jackhammer being put onto a snare drum, extreme metal riffs, and lots of incomprehensible screaming. The production is a complete mess, but it could be a lot more annoying (see: "Under A Funeral Moon" - Darkthrone
). Tinny sounding guitars and mostly unheard drums, while sucky, could be a lot more of a hindrance. In all honesty, it's probably a saving grace that it's hard to hear the often messy drumming over the guitars and vocals.
By the time things roll around to "***ed Up System", it's pretty obvious that these guys have a formula, and they're going to stick to it. Riffs, jackhammering on the snare drum, and screaming on top of it. And vocally, it deserves to be called "screaming". I'm not the biggest fan of metal vocals, but there are bands who do it well. From a growling rumble a la Electric Wizard
to black metal rasps a la Gorgoroth
, some people can abuse their vocal cords without sounding like an amateurish parody of themselves.
Extreme Noise Terror are not among those people. One vocalist manages a terrible guttural delivery that lends credence to every metal naysayer saying the singer sounds like he's taking a dump, while the other shouts with a sort of uncontrolled fury that, if it were higher, would sound a lot like Burzum
at his most obnoxious.
But like the bad production masking some of the amateurish aspects of the performance, the bad vocals mask the GOD AWFUL lyrics. I don't necessarily disagree with their politics (aside from "Murder" which, surprise surprise, is a pro animal rights song), but did the world really need "Say you're here to help / But you just *** me. / No more lies and deceit"" The lyrics actually manage to be simpler than an Atari Teenage Riot
song, but lack every bit of the "*** YEAH!" rabble rousing chant quality that endears ATR to people. Luckily, unless you really, really care about hearing it, you probably won't be able to make out any of the ham handed left wing pontificating.
Despite all of what's going against it, I like this album. There's certainly way better crust punk out there, but it's not too bad. For what it's worth, it's good for blasting and headbanging and all right for a low volume listening, whenever you're in the mood for something more extreme than your standard hardcore fare. But if this is the first you've heard of crust punk, don't judge the genre by this. There's better out there (like "The Terror Continues" by Raw Noise
, which is essentially this album with most of the bad parts taken out), but if you feel your collection of proto-grindcore, punk/metal crossover is lacking, you might want to check this out.