This is the sixth in a series all taken from the Fanzine Hope *.2. The fanzine sees a collection of 70 contributors from the punk rock world. All asked the same question What is Your Favourite Gig. The zine is €5 including postage to anywhere It is a benefit for Pikpa Refugee Centre, Lesvos Pay by paypal, here
This week it is Miles Hackett from Dry Heave Records
Dry heave are taking old skater and thrash bands and reminding the kids that these bands once shredded. Usually limited run and usually full on power
Miles Hackett – Dry Heave Records
NAPALM DEATH, EXTREME NOISE TERROR, BOLT THROWER, CARCASS & INTENSE DEGREE
LONDON, ULU 1989
You’d be forgiven for glancing at this line-up and thinking you’d picked up an extreme metal zine by mistake, but way back in ’89 this gig, aptly named ‘A Night Of Rock N’Roll Armageddon’ was the one of the pinnacles of the, then furtive UK hardcore punk scene. Unlike its US counterpart the UK scene had been born from the legacy of UK 82, anarcho and crust bands that moved in Crass and Discharge circles and pushed their musical power and lyrics to the very point of decimation. Sure there was a slight thrash metal influence (most of the bands on tonight’s bill are firmly entrenched in metal circles these days) but back then this was the largest gathering the UK hardcore scene had witnessed. This scene was, in all its glorious extremity, finding support in the most unusual of places,
John Peel acting as its chief ambassador. He’d been playing and inviting in for sessions many of these bands for the last couple of years and championing their socio-political, sonic terrorism across the nation’s airwaves on his nightly BBC show. This in turn had caught the eye of the of the music broad sheets who had been devoting more and more column inches to this underground phenomena of the extreme, dubbing it Britcore. Which all ended up at this gig and its public broadcast on national television. Anyone remember Snub TV? It was the mildly alternative music show that boasted a weekly tea time slot on BBC2 and was the brain child of the unintelligible Frenchman from Eurotrash, Antoine De Caunes. The show devoted a whole episode to UK hardcore and was centred around this gig. What they filmed wasn’t pretty….
Five bands for a meagre £3.50 was a snip even back in the late 80’s so, expectedly tonight’s show at London’s ULU is a sell out and punks, thrashers, crusties and indie kids alike are shoe horned in to the confines of this 600 capacity venue to witness the band on everyone’s lips, Napalm Death and their all grinding, supporting cast. Earache records, who were born of and at the forefront of this movement had laid on this showcase of the extreme and the expectation was high in the air. Mansfield’s Intense Degree were up first and capitalising on their 1988 debut ‘War In My Head’ and a Peel session of March that same year are the least metallic band on the bill tonight. Their superfast hardcore more in the vein of stalwarts Heresy proving the perfect, adrenalin kick of warm up this gig needed. Up next were another band fresh from their dropping their debut album and being taken to John Peel’s bosom, Liverpool’s Carcass. 1988’s crudely produced ‘Reek Of Putrefaction’ had already been heralded an underground classic with its blitzcore grind and medical textbook lyrics, they even shared a guitarist with headliners Napalm Death in Bill Steer. Dreadlocked frontman Jeff Walker growled and snarled like the deaths he sang about were his own, as songs like ‘Genital Grinder’ saw the first stage divers of the night leap like lemming s into the assembled throng.
Carcass are the most ‘metallic’ band on tonight’s soiree, their riffing and lyrical subject matter pegging them into a pioneering seat in the brave new world of ‘grindcore’, they are rewarded with an ever increasingly violent pit. Next up were the Games Workshop inspired, Coventry crust- thrashers Bolt Thrower. Their debut ‘In Battle There is No Law’ hadn’t been an Earache affair but had been released the previous year on Vinyl Solution records after they were once again championed by none other than John Peel. With a sound that was as much Discharge and Crass as it was Slayer, their raw guitars and stupidly fast rhythm section was also moving into grindcore territory. Also, like Intense Degree they boasted a female bassist, something of a rarity in the testosterone fuelled world of extreme music but a door which the punk mentality of their collective backgrounds had opened.
Unlike Carcass before them who were a wall of intense speed, Bolt Thrower’s sludgy crust-metal breaks offered respite from the blast beats. The crowd by now was at capacity, the squashing horde offering ample support to the occasional stage divers leaping for victory. Main support tonight were positive veterans of the UK scene, Extreme Noise Terror. This Ipswich quintet were conceived in 1985 and boasted two vocalists for that added harsh vitriol and are widely considered the forefathers of this genre and its subgenre crust-grind. Their roots are unashamedly crust-punk but having evolved and veering toward grindcore with their short sharp, political ragers that became a blueprint for the movement in its formative years. With all this in mind ULU starts to turn to mayhem at this point and there are practically queues at stage left and right for divers to launch themselves into the increasingly chaotic pit. Cameramen are now starting to look over their shoulders as moshers barge towards them as they try to document the unconventional image of ENT and the crowd reaction alike.
However, nothing could prepare the Snub TV crew, security guards, venue staff and to an extent the crowd for who were fast becoming one of the most infamous bands in the UK, Napalm Death. Their 28 track debut album ‘Scum’ had propelled them into folklore, where people not even remotely associated with punk or metal had their curiosity aroused by the band dubbed the ‘fastest band in the world’. Their debut may have dropped two years previous but the media hype on Napalm Death was growing feverishly. As soon as they hit the stage maelstrom erupted, the orderly stage side queue of divers looked for new launch pads and the PA was scaled on each side, three or four people atop at any point, then swan diving into the vortex of bodies below. Fire hoses were sprayed upwards, trying to topple the lemmings. Chaos was reigning while Napalm Death’s soundtrack to oblivion played as its backdrop. The whole night began to feel like a Boeing 747 hurtling, out of control towards the ground as chunks of the PA fell beneath the climbers, crashing onto the heads of the sardine packed crowd below. The Death managed to maintain course during the carnage around and after it was all over everyone spilled out into the crisp February night.
This show was arguably the pinnacle and end of a scene. Vocalist Lee Dorian left Napalm Death not long after and they elevated into the metalsphere along with Carcass and Bolt Thrower who would become death metal behemoth’s in their own right (and still are to this day). Intense Degree faded into obscurity and the lone hardcore punk survivors Extreme Noise Terror would lose vocalist Phil Vane when he untimely died in 2011. But for this evening, as documented by the BBC, Britcore lived, roared, conquered and became extinct in a blaze of primeval glory.