Formed as a deathly sick hardcore/crust punk side-project between Cathedral‘s post-‘Statik Majik’ touring line-up sans Mark Ramsay (Acid Reign, Cronos) with the drum spot filled in by Barry Stern (Trouble, Zoetrope) the whole idea of Septic Tank seemed counter-productive to the whole reason Cathedral had formed by invigorating Dorrian‘s punk influences. With the project sacked and stuffed until Cathedral‘s decision to end around 2012 they’d miss a chance at recording with Stern, who passed away in 2005 not long after contributing to Debris Inc.‘s fantastic, and similarly conceived metal-punk outings. In describing their output since I think it is best to use a two point Deviated Instinct scale where ‘Septic Tank’ (2013) was a ‘Guttural Breath’ sort of scooped late 80’s thrashcore-meets-Celtic Frost mutant and ‘Rotting Civilisation’ is a spitting image of ‘Rock n’ Roll Conformity’ in terms of d-beat and English Dogs‘d hardcore informing most of its sound. You would think a 40 minute hardcore album is in poor taste but Septic Tank show thier hand as old pros on this long overdue debut.
Not sure where you were at in 2002 but I was front-and-center as witness to the true return of Discharge on their self-titled, a hammer of a return to form; Much of that style stuck out as a major comparison on surface-level spins of ‘Rotting Civilisation’ with help from Lee Dorrian‘s still-rotten pipes and unique phrasing. Those early Celtic Frost influences must have been mistaken for Venom-isms and are moderately replaced by several Motörhead style nods you shouldn’t be too surprised by. The end of the LP kinda picks up the bag in terms of heaviness with “Never Never Land” and “Living Death”; This helps keep the second half from perpetuating the dragging repetition of the first. The sound is more ‘Probot’ than it is ‘Why?’ and I think that’ll help it appeal to more folks than their ragged and rushed EP.
The good comes with the mediocre on a full spin but I got the biggest kick from the Minor Threat-ish “Whitewash”, the B-side from ‘The Guessing Game’ lurch of “Death Vase”, “Danger Signs” had a sort of D.I. feeling to it, and I was convinced “Rotting Empire” was an English Dogs cover initially. Although I don’t think the whole spin is essential listening it shouldn’t outright offend anyone curious and might even inspire folks who have a deep connection with English crust, 80’s hardcore, and the separate legacies of the musicians involved. I mostly picked it up for the Cathedral/Repulsion credits and wasn’t disappointed.
Abattoirs for your mind. 3.25/5.0
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