Another year’s nearly gone by, and I have the honour of compiling CVLT Nation’s top 6 of German releases. I’ve tried to include releases from at least somewhat differing genres, as well as different formats (not just full length records) and also from new, exciting bands as well as established acts. Of course, a top six can never be complete, considering the huge amount of records released in one year, and naturally these choices are completely and utterly subjective. There are a bunch of other records I could have put easily on this list as well: O, Red Apollo or White Fields for example all released amazing records this year, but somehow I had to make decisions. Let us know in the comments section which records would have been on your top 6 German releases list and if we might agree on one or another! Oh and I cheated here and there a tiny bit, but I guess it should be fine with the golden rules of best-of-listing. Let’s go:
by Oliver Sheppard
2012 was a great year for deathrock. As I wrote in the notes for the CVLT Nation Deathrock 2012 Part II mixtape, “Most of these new bands come from the DIY punk scene and are reclaiming deathrock’s punk roots. There is a strong element of anarcho/peace punk in a lot of the bands’ sound – see Moral Hex and Dead Cult, for example. Although there are some precedents for this, this is one of the novel developments in this style of music.”
A quick word about the term “deathrock,” whose use sometimes inspires endless debate, both online and off: The strictest and least forgiving definition of the term would be that it was a dark postpunk phenomenon that lasted from 1979 until about 1986 or 1987, and was primarily local to Los Angeles — or the US southwest in general, including California, Nevada (Theatre of Ice), and Arizona (Mighty Sphincter, The Consumers). And yet for many later bands, like Cinema Strange, and current bands, like Christ vs Warhol, Naughty Zombies, or Las Gorgonas, there is simply no other genre tag that fits, although increasingly terms like “goth-punk,” “dark punk,” and even “g-beat” (hah) are being used. Music hasn’t stopped evolving. According to Martin “Oldgoth” Coles at Louder Than War, gothic “music in the nineties was largely dire, possibly due to the scene’s popularity at the end of the eighties bringing in a lot of people without those punk roots” that had originally invigorated the music. “It’s high time the scene looked back and reinvented itself again,” Coles concluded. 2012 has shown “those punk roots” have indeed been rediscovered, as the following releases amply show. They’re listed IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER.
DYSTOPIAN SOCIETY – “Cages” LP
The debut LP by Italy’s Dystopian Society is an important, punk-influenced slab of purist deathrock that features lyrics sung and printed in English; the release garnered them a spot at 2012′s Drop Dead Fest in Germany. Earlier in the year, I reviewed the LP and interviewed the band at CVLT Nation here. The band, a power trio, bring to mind old school deathrock solidly in the vein of early, Rikk Agnew-powered Christian Death, or Voodoo Church, or the Superheroines. The band also performs covers of Paralasis Permanente and Rudimentary Peni songs live, further showcasing their punk sensibility. The band’s anthem, “Dystopian Society,” is an uptempo – but dark – political rocker, while creepier-sounding songs like “Masquerade” satirically poke fun at the obsession with image so evident in what has become of a lot of the deathrock and goth scenes, where punk attitude has been replaced by layers of awful, Tim Burton-style goth clown makeup and the attendant vanity that comes with that kind of cartoony take on the genre. You can get Dystopian Society’s Cages here.
I knew when I picked up the first issue of MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL I was going to love it just by looking at the kind of paper it was printed on. Then there was the layout, which was chaotic but made total sense to my young mind. Being from Southern California, I was an avid reader of Flipside, but MRR spoke to me in a different way. My favorite part of the magazine was the national and international scene reports that helped get me into gnarly bands from around the world. This was in 1982, so without these mags it was hard to find out about music that was not coming from our neighborhood. I can honestly say that these scene reports had such a big influence on me, which is why we always wanted CVLT Nation to have a global aspect to it! MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL even changed the way that promoters booked shows – it was because of them that Goldenvoice started putting on international gigs with bands from all over the world. Then there was the politics of this fanzine; they talked about things that other zines at the time would never talk about. MRR made me want to be an activist and make a difference in the world in some way. After I heard the “Not So Quiet on The Western Front,” the way I listened to punk was never the same. This was a record that I played over and over and never got bored of! One day I will never forget was in 1984, the “summer of hate” in San Francisco due to the Skinheads (B.A.SH & S.F.Skins) terrorizing the scene. Tim Yohannan invited Mark Dagger and his other skinhead goons on to the MRR radio show, and they went head to head with them about their racist beliefs. Tim Yohannan ripped them a new one! The fallout from this show was that the skinheads wanted to destroy the anarchist bookstore on Haight St. You can now go HERE and download the first 8 issues of this fanzine that has helped shape worldwide punk culture. After the jump check a video essay of some of the bands that were featured in MRR in the early days, as well as some screenshots of the first issues. CVLT Nation salutes MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL for being around for 30 years – thank you for changing my life!
Note: This article originally appeared by Oliver Sheppard at Souciant.com, here.
Record labels are a funny thing. Just like bands, they can be objects of cultish devotion. Factory, Dischord, 4AD, Rough Trade, and others all have fans who look to a label’s branding as an indication of a band’s style, ethics, and quality. This goes back to the days of Sun Records in the 1950s. Crass Records‘ reputation as a purist punk label is due for reexamination.
by Oliver Sheppard
Portland doom metal band Atriarch have taken a gothic turn since their split earlier this year with San Francisco’s Alaric. Although still solidly anchored to a doom metal-y rhythm section — complete with ponderous, stomping drums and trudging bass guitar — on the band’s new LP, Ritual of Passing, the vocals have taken on an increasingly Rozz Williams style of wailing, and the guitars more and more evince an influence by Rikk Agnew and Eva O (although there are still plenty of ‘tolling bells of doom’-type downtuned, crunchy guitar arrangements). At their Facebook page, Atriarch describe themselves as “blackened deathrock/doom,” and that is as good a phrase to describe their hybrid style as any I have seen. Ritual of Passing combines elements of early 80s LA deathrock with downtempo European doom metal.
I had a blast growing up in the 80′s, and by 1984 I started to feel really confident about my place in the world. I was 15, living on my own in San Francisco, and totally entrenched into post punk and death rock. I loved Echo and The Bunnymen, even if some people might have considered them new wave. In my book, they were wrong, because this band wrote killer tunes that transcended that lightweight genre. As songwriters, Echo and The Bunnymen were in a league all of their own. They were one of the few groups that could unify the different tribes that were separated by labels or musical “boxes.” Today, CVLT Nation would like to celebrate this killer band by showing their 1983 show on Rockpalast in full. Peep how heads will roll after the jump and enjoy Echo and The Bunnymen at their peak!
The cover of Joy Division’s 1979 album Unknown Pleasures is as stark and enigmatic as the music itself: a series of jagged white lines against a black background that’s been recreated in tattoos, clothing, and animation. In a clip for New York’s Visualized Conference, former Factory Records graphic designer Peter Saville explains the origin behind the cover, which represents the frequency of the signal from the first observed pulsar or pulsating star. “As pretty much with all groups with their first release, [Joy Division] knew what they wanted on the cover,” Saville says. “They gave me this page… the page from the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy.” After inverting the colors, the image went on the band’s first album, and into endless remixes — including the one above — during the ensuing decades.
Attention all peace-punk loving Los Angeles residents: if you don’t know, now you know that UK’s legends The MOB are playing your city this Friday the 19th!! CVLT Nation is honored to be giving away a pair of tickets to one LA-based reader, so you can see The MOB kill it alongside Naked Aggression, Coäccion, Destroy Judas and Generacion Suicida at Black Castle on 855 W. Manchester Ave 90044. To win, just email us with “The MOB” in the subject line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll be drawing a winner at Noon tomorrow, Thursday the 18th! Please only enter if you live in the vicinity of LA and can make it to the show!
Guest Writer Guilty Parents
The Haxan Cloak
Under the guise The Haxan Cloak the music of one Mr Bobby Krillic has been blogged and reblogged over the last couple of years. Records appearing on such illustrious labels such as Aurora Borealis and Latitudes, plus his recent signing to hip electronica label Tri-Angle Records makes it look as though The ‘Cloak is continuing be spread further and further across the music scene. The source of all this excitement is an eclectic exploration of occultish soundscapes that takes in everything from modern classical, film score, electronica, drone, free-folk and metal elements and conjures them into a rich canvas that teeters on the edge of a deep deep abyss.
This October sees the release of the debut 7” of London post-punk savages Good Throb on the ever rewarding Superfi Records. Self described as “Speculum rock for suicidal call-centre staff and the sexually dispossessed.” Imagine Mark E Smith reborn a girl and reliving endless bad days at the office and disappointing nights out. Rebuking customer service and hurling that maliciously malfunctioning photocopier out of the damn window. Not to mention her band appear to have found the perfect middle ground between Flipper and the 4-Skins to boot!
Not saying there weren’t isms in punk rock in the beginning, but as a youngster I always had respect for all of the women who were there from day one. From the the United Kingdom to the United States of America, women were making their creative spirit heard. Today I want to focus on The Slits and X-Ray Spex – both bands shared a sense of musical freedom that other bands from their era didn’t have. When you hear Ari UP and crew explain it, they never wanted to make “male-sounding” music. When I play The Slits today, you still can’t hear a band that has come close to manifesting such original songs. As performers, this band was confrontational in their own right. Then there were the X-Ray Spex, fronted by Poly Styrene (her braces bugged me out), who knew how to write perfectly subversive pop songs. When I watched this band on television during the late 70′s, I always felt that it was okay to be different. X-Ray Spex’s use of the sax in their tunes elevated them to another universe of radness. Both of these bands are still influencing new generations of females and males to this very day. I could talk about how they changed the face of fashion, but that is a whole other feature unto itself. Today, CVLT Nation would like to celebrate The Slits & X-Ray Spex with a giant video photo essay…We are all Germfree Adolescents, so after the jump, peep the typical girls!
The Slits & X-Ray Spex after the jump!