Saturday, July 24, 2004

It's Thrashurday! Get Your Mosh On Kids...

Various Artists
Pushead Presents Cleanse the Bacteria
Pusmort Records, 1985

Yes, much as this looks 20 years later from the title alone like some sort of underground version of Spinal Tap -- I mean, as a title: "Pushead Presents Cleanse the Bacteria" ranks right up there with "Break Like the Wind" or "Christmas with the Devil"... and there is at least one Spinal Tappish cut called "Beast of the Apocalypse" by the Finnish band Holy Dolls, it still holds together as a decent document of global thrash (I count 13 countries represented here) in the mid-80's.

As you can guess this is a mid-80s hardcore-thrash-punk compilation. It's put together by the Boise, Idaho gore 'n' skulls artist Pushead aka Brian Schroeder who went on to illustrate covers for Metallica and the skateboard magazine Thrasher. His band Septic Death appears on here but the less said, the better. The compilation itself is quite a feat -- I got the special orange vinyl LP (with about 60 minutes of music), the bonus EP and the Pushead poster (I think about 500 were made) and a second pressing of just the LP. The cover is high quality, glossy with a Pushead original four color pen and ink picture of some ugly bald feller coming out of the skull and bone infested swamp-river landscape. It's really quite good (a picture is here) as these things go though I'll not hold my breath on Pushead showing up at the Guggenheim.

The better cuts on here come from the still-together 7 Seconds, the apparently defunct Civil Dissident (Australia), Instigators (UK) and Part 1 (UK?). The disappointing cuts are from Poison Idea, Crude SS and pre-crossover C.O.C. who apparently did not send in their best work. There's also a lot of generic shite here from bands like Inferno, Mob 47, Enola Gay, Zykome A, Extrem, etc. I culled about 30 good minutes of music from the original 80 minutes (I cleansed the bacteria as it were).

Song topics are mostly predictable: apathy, "Nazy go Home" and "Nazi Raus" and of course the anti-Western U.S. sucks Chomsky-influenced stuff... whatever...there were virtually no Eastern bloc bands at the time (and none on this record), so I wonder if the kids there, if they could have spoken up, would have laid all the blame for the Cold War on the West.

My selections here include Civil Dissident's "That Was This Is" - I like the way the drums sounds and the singer's gruff Lemmy-like voice (I like his "awv course, awv course" at the end). It's also nice to have a verse that has more than two chords (the standard HC song on this collection seems to be to play the same two chords over again, slow for the verse and then double time for the chorus). That said, these Aussies knew their stuff, could play their instruments and as one of the other cuts "20th Century Holocaust" attested, they could play fast and still sound coherent as a whole. It's well within the 'rules' of hardcore - but coloring inside the lines can still often pull together some neat results. Their other cuts are just as fine.

Instigator's "The Blood is on Your Hands" uses their second guitar for some neat effects something that you didn't seem to hear too much (most bands, if they had a second guitar would just overload on the rhythm line, perhaps because the whole notion of guitar solos was frowned upon). Listen how it sounds like the barber's electric razor getting too close to your ears during the chorus. My god, it's almost a thrash song with a hook! But it's also used to great effect throughout the song. I also like the quieted-down bridge into the second verse. The lyrics are silly and Instigators have their own Spinal Tap moment in another cut, "53rd State" where an overwrought spoken verse bemoans the presence of American bombers in Merry Old Englande. Ah, Bloody Hell, shut up already.

Part 1's "Black Mass" was (along with the afore-mentioned Holy Dolls song and Poison Idea's anti-straight-edge version of Iggy's "I Got A Right") a bit different from most of the political MRR thrash replete with ska style beat and a trebly buzz guitar. The recording could use some more bottom, though and I've got no idea what the guy is singing about. Something nasty no doubt.

I would have also included the 7 Seconds anthemic cuts ("Regress No Way" and "We're Gonna Fight") as I think they are classic songs but you can still buy their records and listen to samples on their website (here) and I thought it would be more worthwhile to put the spotlight on these obscurities instead.

Have a great weekend.

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