Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blast(beat) from the Past: Heresy

Heresy’s supporters can be distinguished by five indicators. First, there are those who visit heretics secretly when they are in prison; second, those who lament their capture and have been their intimate friends (it is, in fact, unlikely that one who has spent much time with a heretic remains ignorant of his activity); third, those who declare the heretics have been unjustly condemned, even when their guilt has been proved; fourth, those who look askance and criticize those who persecute heretics and preach against them successfully, and this can be discovered from the eyes, nose, the expression they try to conceal, showing hatred toward those for whom they feel bitterness and love toward those whose misfortune grieves them; the fifth sign, finally, is the fact that they collect the charred bones of burned heretics and make them an object of veneration.

Umberto Eco
The Name of the Rose

Face Up to It

In Your Face


The period between high school and college is full of transitions. Way back in the Pleistocene (aka the mid-1990s) I not only transitioned myself the hell out of my parents’ house and into the dorm, but I was also phasing my musical consumption from punk and aggressive thrash to a diet of grindcore, courtesy of a cassette borrowed from a friend (the TDK 90 minute tape being the file sharing of the era) that had Suicidal Tendencies’ first album on one side and something called Utopia Banished by the punk-sounding-named Napalm Death on the other. Having recently had my mind blown by Napalm Death’s back catalogue, I found Heresy's Face Up to It sitting in the $3 vinyl bin at the truly amazing Rebound Records (RIP). Recognizing the name from a plethora of album thank you lists (something I still rely on for musical inspiration) I plopped down a fiver (also finding Possessed’s Beyond the Gates in the $2 cassette section). What I blindly picked up was a landmark grind/punk classic from that era when Drop Dead became Scum (with just a tad of Gate of Doom crossover thrash for lube). This is classic pre-grind. Proto, if you will.
Punk girth and grind acceleration getting up in hardcore’s grill. Right off the top the band blasts and snarls its way through “Consume” while frontman John snarls like a surly, British Keith Morris. The title track is even more traditional hardcore, making those connections back to punk even more explicit, but dominating the album is the sprawling “Flowers in Concrete” flails through punk, proto-grind, spoken word and is that a hint of hip hop bounce in the middle? The intro riff is pure “Jealous Again” worship while much of the song could have been outtakes from an early Napalm Death rehearsal tape.
Art by pastiche luminary/Dead Kennedys collaborator John Yates and a grimy, gritty aesthetic round out one of the less discussed offshoots of the early grind family tree. I understand Boss Tuneage recently scraped some of the scuzz off the mix and reissued Face Up to It, but I can’t imagine why you would bother. It’s a beautifully punk mess just as it is.


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Bill Willingham IV, Esquire said...

Nice write-up! I need to shore up the foundations of my grind collection at some point with more of the proto-stuff.

Also, if I ever started a thrash band we'd be called Xrumer.