An Exhaustive Study: Death Metal/Crust Punk [1988-Present] Part II – Megatrends in Uncertainty

AN EXHAUSTIVE STUDY is exactly that, an exploratory documentarian medium rather than an authoritative statement. This time around it is a vehicle tasked with collecting and discovering the history of bands/albums that would find a natural fusion between emergent crust punk (“stenchcore”) and nascent death metal movements. I’ll attempt a moderately chronological set of albums herein that are essentially… eh, ideally crust punk and death metal hybridized whilst trying to avoid too much direct crossover with grindcore, thrash and (eventual) black metal associations; These variations will inevitably be included in some capacity due to the joyous form-shattering nature of crossover experimentation in the 80’s and 90’s as well as the “there are no rules” mindset in terms of sub-genre of the last two decades. Most of the research (er, listening) for this series was done between 2014-2018 but it was not a thorough practice so, it remains a second revision of a primary list. Please feel free to recommend bands or albums for this venture while keeping in mind a full discography for each band is not the goal, unless multiple releases are particularly important. Feel free to debate entries, etc. this is not a declarative practice on my part. I don’t care about teaching you a damn thing, I want to learn together!


EXTREME CONDITIONS (1992-2000)

For Part II we will have to essentially justify this study with some viable stylistic extension of what’d been done in the 80’s with a next level of 90’s extreme metal consciousness, it being a bit too early for nostalgic cutbacks towards earliest Bolt Thrower all while dodging the rising popularity of grindcore’s second wave of popularity. This means we’ll rely on late-to-the-party crust bands and crossover bands who would push towards death/thrash speed, some reaching for emergent deathgrind in the wake of groups like Napalm Death and Terrorizer. That might sound like a precarious tightrope to walk as death metal peaked, sludge metal clarified itself, crossover (and thrash) died, groove metal snuck in, and shit… Collecting it all with any sense will be difficult, but crust punk (and, 80’s hardcore punk) will be the variable(s) to push us away from deathgrind with some moderate clarity. This is my favorite personal era of uncertainty for death/punk hybridization as it’ll totally avoid the more generic acts that we will find post-2000 as neocrust introduces new rules and “grindcore” becomes an increasingly vague, meaningless term that calls for specialization of certain niche(s). Vote, suggest other bands, fill in the blanks, and let me know if you want Part III (~2001-2010)


CARCINOGEN ‘Kure’ (Life is Abuse, 1992)

No doubt we’d ran into some classics to start as we worked through the “primer” stage of this list but this is basically where the shit hits the fan and the real gems start to bust out. Carcinogen is more or less the primeval version of Orange County’s infamous nihilistic extreme sludge, crust and grind band Dystopia, featuring their drummer/vocalist Dino at a wildest stage of development. The band wasn’t directly a successor to Dystopia but the main traits of this project would bleed over profusely. If you’d been seeking out death metal/crust punk spiritus and never landed upon this one it is because the death metal influences ‘Kure’ aren’t the major draw for the punks who’d happen upon it. This tape is essentially a short death metal album with bursts of grind and crust punk throughout, echoing their love of thrash metal and almost sounding like a continuation of later Cryptic Slaughter (see: “Sewer System”) when they slow down. Definitely check this out if you’re into the hardcore that influenced early powerviolence. Also make sure to check out this footage from the final Carcinogen show [HERE].

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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SADISTIC GANG RAPE ‘Massdevastation’ (Demo, 1992)

S.G.R. hailed from Avesta, Sweden having formed as a death metal band in 1991 and soon earning a small name for themselves between their controversial name (later changed to Society Gang Rape) and releasing a DIY split tape with other Avesta bands Fulmination, Regurgitate and Andromeda. This first official demo tape is a major oversight when I talk to a lot of Swedish death metal heads, despite being a bit crusted over at times this was a very ambitious tape for such a new band that’d notably feature female members — This might sound trite today but Swedish death metal wasn’t well populated with female artists ’til a bit later. This demo also notably features Johan Jansson who is credited as a member of Interment on the tape but today we know him as an important member of Demonical, Centinex, and Dellamorte. Likewise original Uncanny vocalist Jens Törnroos provides some vocals here, you can directly compare this to his performance on the ‘Nyktalgia’ demo from the same year to figure which parts are his. We will come back to S.G.R. once or twice more as they would eventually become a full crust punk band over time but this first crust influenced death metal demo serves our cause best to start and couldn’t be ignored.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

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COMECON ‘Megatrends in Brutality’ (Century Media, 1992)

‘Megatrends in Brutality’ is just one step in the absolutely strange journey from early 80’s Swedish punk musicians who’d joined The Krixhjälters after their first demo tape (in 1983) and eventually become one of just a handful of interesting crossover thrash groups from the country in the late 80’s. Well, they would put out a “serious” thrash metal record as Omination in 1990 before two members would recognize the death metal trend and form Comecon, enlisting Tomas Skogsberg‘s Sunlight Studios to record their first album with L.G. Petrov (Nihilist, Morbid) who had exited Entombed after ‘Left Hand Path’. So, if you’d ever wondered what he did while they we off making ‘Clandestine’, this uh, was it. I’ve always laughed at folks who rush to mention that this album features a drum machine as if it were interesting trivia; This is hilarious first because it is so painfully obvious as they’ve mixed it very loud and the programming is terrible. Second, certain aspects of many early Sunlight Studios produced releases involved some manner of pads or programming as they couldn’t fit a full drum kit into the small studio, this is the main reason we never got Vader‘s debut from the studio as planned. Without being too brutal, this album only carried on people’s tongues through history because it arrived within a frenzy for this sort of material. The music itself isn’t bad, in fact ‘Megatrends in Brutality’ makes it on this list for its sharp study of early Bolt Thrower, crust punk, thrash metal which all manage to be quite different than much of what was floating around Sweden in ’91-’92. If you’re not convinced of this, check out “The Future Belongs to Us” and well read the lyric sheet for the album, clearly this was one of the earlier legit melds of death and crust uh, despite what a freak it is upon closer examination.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

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GUILLOTINE TERROR ‘Black Rebel Storm’ (Battle Planning, 1993)

The first album from Tokyo’s Guillotine Terror is probably their heaviest and they’ve conceded that its sound was more about impact than speed, which they would correct on future releases. This is ideal for our purposes because it does read as a successful merging of death metal heaviness applied to crust punk, obviously leaning towards the more metallic and severe style of crust we’d find in Japan ten years post-GISM and such. Interestingly enough the vocalist suggests the sound of this album is most inspired by doom metal, specifically pointing to early Black Sabbath as a major influence. I don’t find this to be obvious at all and hear some later-era thrash and classic crust in the guitar work. I won’t be covering all of their discography here and it’d be fair to say this was the last one to really hit the death/crust mark we’re looking for.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

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IMMURED ‘Torture Master’ (Demo, 1993)

Immured formed in Nuremberg, Germany circa 1991 as a pure death metal band, a fantastic one actually as you’ll find digging into this brutal first demo from the project. This tape is included as posterity, in fact what I’ve linked below is a chronological history of the band prior to thier shift towards a grindcore/crust punk sound around 2001 after several line-up changes. The band would never find their footing during their first ten years as a band, sporting a brutal death sound on one tape and then a Bolt Thrower/early Amorphis influenced style the next but in my opinion all of their death metal stuff is solid. This first demo is probably the most pure old school death metal, very straight forward in the best way. I might include one of their later albums, ‘Fake New World’ for example, but we’ll see when we get there. For now I’d just wanted to include another example of a band who’d made the transition “backwards” in an interesting way, keeping the name but flipping from death to punk.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

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ABORTION ‘Godmaggots’ (Demo, 1993)

Slovakian grindcore band Abortion are best known for their ‘The Gonzo Music’ album, perhaps because there is a penis on the cover art and I suppose for that record’s take on classic 80’s grindcore/thrashcore irreverence. As it turns out they’ve been around since 1989 and started out with a demo in 1992 that was basically just joking around. A year later they’d written a few songs and were taking some of it seriously, blending the crazed death/grindcore of Blood (minus the pitch shifting) with the spastic hardcore of Filthy Christians (or nearby post-‘Scum’ grindcore) for a pretty entertaining first demo. Is it death/crust? Not really, I mean just that 80’s grindcore style with some death metal filling in the cracks. Duck vocals, growls, simple hardcore punk riffs, none of it really hits upon crust despite the constant suggestion of fans. I’ll check in on their other releases here and there but, ‘Godmaggots’ is probably not the crust we’re looking for and so far sounds entirely indebted to classic grindcore.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

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SIMBIOSE ‘Até Quando?’ (Demo, 1993)

Another grindcore influenced crust/hardcore punk influenced tape but this one from Lisbon, Portugal of all places and cranking out a notably present bass guitar tone. I personally love the sound of this tape, very classic mid-80’s fidelity without burying any of the instruments or giving too much power to the guitars, perhaps more along the lines of orange county hardcore than crust in that sense but, still obviously leaning towards metallic hardcore, speedcore and heavier grindcore influenced bursts. I love how they hit upon those faster bursts of speed and usually hold it all together. The band would later become best known for their blend of crust and grind influenced death metal, which I’ll probably touch upon once we’re up to the mid-2000’s or so. Great place to start with a solid enough band but not exactly what we’re digging for just yet.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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PREGASM ‘The Clear Stuff’ (Demo, 1994)

Pregasm were pretty fucked and not necessarily for the brutal gore and (in this case) genital torture tape covers but for their hyper sped-up hardcore punk style that’d take busted Minutemen style rants and pull in their own nihilistic point of view. I’ve seen this Seattle, Washington band described as grindcore, “industrial punk” (?), and extreme crust but the closest thing I could equate their psycho punked death music sound to is probably Ripped (Ohio). Oddly enough the drummer from Inquisition was in this band. Tons more videos on Pregasm over on YouTube thanks to the main guy on YouTube [Here]. This doesn’t touch upon our death/crust needs but I figured it was rare and fucked up enough to warrant some mention.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

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TASTE OF FEAR ‘Taste of Fear’ (Lost & Found Records, 1994)

Taste of Fear was Daryl Kahan‘s (Funebrarum, ex-Disma) next project after his time with Citizens Arrest and a stint in Born Against. I’ve seen this project described as hardcore punk/grindcore, as well as deathgrind and I’d say both fit depending which song you’ve landed upon on this debut. The early 90’s New York/New Jersey hardcore influences are clear enough as the album starts but I’m not sure if we’re hitting upon crust beyond the start of the second half and the fact that they’d done a split with Disrupt back in 1992. Solid album and if you’re looking for a reasonable early crossover between death metal and hardcore this is the right way to do it.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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SOCIETY GANG RAPE ‘No Fate’ (Sound Pollution Records, 1995)

Depending on your point of view this should fit our guidelines perfectly. Crust punk in spirit and in musical form, albeit stripped down to hardcore punk abruptness and void of Amebix-esque crawls. Death metal vocals, not full on roaring horror but Marie-Louise Gunnarsson‘s vocals are brutal enough and in line with the brutal crust out of Japan at the time. What I love about this album is that they might no longer be a death metal band as in their demo tapes but they went full bore d-beat in spirit, didn’t half-ass the crust/hardcore punk arrangements and made a death metallic hardcore punk record as a result. It is the right sort of hybrid and perhaps a bit of an anomaly if we discount some of the stuff Holy Moses did in the early 90’s, which is also a bit forgotten. Style wasn’t the reason this album ended up pretty obscure, I mean the small United States label and the horrible, horrible stuffed bunny album artwork couldn’t have helped anyone take this seriously. Still, I’m a huge fan.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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EXTREME NOISE TERROR ‘Retro-bution’ (Earache Records, 1995)

By 1995 Extreme Noise Terror‘s debut ‘Holocaust in Your Head’ (1989) had already been re-recorded twice yet this time around they were set on doing it again with a few tracks swapped in from their 1992 EP ‘Phonophobia’ and a bit more “death metal” (read: Terrorizer) attitude. Who could blame them? Most of the folks picking their records up were discovering crust and grindcore through Napalm Death and clearly these guys hadn’t had a new idea in a few years. Nonetheless, I’ve always liked these heavier versions of those early songs and will generally enjoy any/every version of that first album you could throw at me. Metal-Archives reviews for this record are a bit of a joke, you can tell most of them bounced off of ‘Damage 381’ (1997) which is death metal featuring Napalm Death‘s vocalist and hadn’t yet realized the repetitive nature of d-beat and 80’s grind were a thing. More on that album soon. ‘Retro-bution’ is primarily interesting for its circa ’95 death metal heaviness applied to a vital crustcore entry. Besides, this is my personal favorite version of “Subluminal” in general.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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SKAVEN ‘Flowers of Flesh and Blood’ (Misanthropic Records, 1996)

Skaven is a much loved relic from the mid-to-late 90’s Oakland-area crust chasm and deservedly so, between these two somewhat “epic” modern crust chargers and their splits with Dystopia and Stormcrow folks are keen to remember these guys as a great big “what if…” from that scene. They were probably best paired with Stormcrow, primarily for their sort of doom-tinged approach to pacing which likewise invokes that post-apocalyptic stenchcore feeling. I’m not sure if it entirely hits upon the death/crust aesthetic we’re seeking out but Skaven were definitely the right sort of next generation spawn of the realm. If these tracks hit the right spot their discography compilation is well worth owning.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

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VOMITU̇Ṡ ‘Ṡu̇timov’ (Demo, 1996)

Tempe, Arizona-based Vomitus weren’t such an anomaly on paper back in the late 90’s, a crust punk band whipping hard at a death metal sound, yet a closer look and listen would find a far more brutal sound than expected with a pinging late 90’s snare and some truly avant-garde guitar work throughout. This demo is a real outlier and should pique the ear of folks looking for strange outsider takes on deathgrind from a crust punk perspective. The band would also record a full-length that went unreleased until they put out a compilation (which also features this demo), hit up the Bandcamp link below to hear where the band were headed before disbanding in 1998. While I understand the excitement people have for this tape it really doesn’t speak to me in terms of classic or neo-crust style but it does do a fine job of blending some of those elements with era-appropriate death metal sounds.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

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CORPUS VILE ‘Dark Comes the Dawn’ (Demo, 1996)

Not to be confused with the Canadian crossover/thrash band these fellows were from Bristol, England and originally played a fairly straightforward form of metallic crust, eventually landing a split LP with the infamous Maggot Slayer Overdrive. This demo came three years after and they’d done a lot of growing and listening since, incorporating elements of doom metal and melodic death metal without losing the shambling Amebix stomp of their earlier stuff. This turns out to be a refreshingly original take, though it might appear a bit primitive if approached from a Bolt Thrower/melodeath point of view still, if you love the ‘epic’ side of crust in the late 90’s this is a bit of a gem. The band would split after this CD went nowhere and have stints with Extinction of Mankind. In trying to research this band a bit I’d found a blogger compare this demo to Nuclear Winter (Greece) on thier much more ‘…For Victory’-era Bolt Thrower leaning ‘Πυρηνικος Χειμωνας’ and I have to say that is pretty apt comparison even if each band were pulling from different influences the melodic, stoic form of crust, death and doom is equally inspired and well-hidden to this day.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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GLYCINE MAX ‘Violent Mind-Peaceful Heart’ (Misanthropic Records, 1996)

This Long Beach, California borne crust/hardcore punk group had been around since 1986, releasing a demo tape in 1989 and I believe self-releasing an EP/compilation in 1990 with this same title. Most anything you’ll find from these folks is a compilation of those two releases with a live recording tacked on the end. I’ve included a 1996 version of the compilation for the sake of a release I can personally confirm, even if it is probably a bootleg. Why include it here and now? Posterity, bands like this were the “missing link” between Los Angeles hardcore punk, British crust, and the emergent grindcore (Nausea, Terrorizer, Majesty) the scene would force out of the shadows for the sake of extremity. These guys were notable in that bubble but perhaps not metal enough for some until 1990 when it was arguably too late to be thrashing this hard. Anyhow, I just like that second 7″/tape so I wanted to include it somewhere.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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FILTH OF MANKIND ‘Czas Końca Wieku’ (Scream Records, 1997)

Oddly enough a lot of folks kinda pass on short-lived Gdańsk, Poland-based band Filth of Mankind simply because they are so heavily influenced by classic crust punk, stenchcore, and early Bolt Thrower without adding much to the gene pool. They never going full death metal but I’ve always found their stuff pretty engaging and smartly written. Their compositional strength is this insistence that the listener chill out and ease into their very late 90’s approach to crust, the same way His Hero Is Gone gave a bit of an attention span back to punks, these guys sprawled their best moments. Most of this first EP always has a classic Axegrinder or ‘In Battle There is No Law’ hook around the next corner and the sound on this EP is huge.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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INSTINCT OF SURVIVAL ‘Instinct of Survival’ (Yellow Dog, 1999)

This well-regarded Hamburg-based band will be more relevant to our cause later on but this earliest formation of the band is no less compelling. They had initially formed as Sperrzone in 1995 with a raw, lo-fi punk style before changing their name in 1998 and switching to an 80’s grindcore influenced sound, closer to early Relapse grind and for this EP what I’d call powerviolence/grindcore. Harsh vocals, crust breaks, blasting powerviolence, and plenty of twisted riffs are all there but it’ll be a while before we can offer a convincing case that Instinct of Survival are death/crust, if at all. A great EP nonetheless, very raw and a pure blast to rip through.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

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FILTH OF MANKIND ‘The Final Chapter’ (Scream Records, 2000)

The second and final release from this short-lived but highly influential modern take on extreme crust punk still holds up today with its long-winded but high musical delivery, often echoing the latter era of Bolt Thrower and the emergent innovations of His Hero is Gone if only for the sake of pulling from some of the same collective influences and taking them to a logical extreme via heavy repetition and a fairly simply tempo map. Much of what I have to say about this album I’d already said about their first EP but this time around the songs are more droning, miserably post-apocalyptic and severe but with much stronger production values. When the drums hit on “Obłędna Rzeczywistość” I can’t help but snap right into the atmosphere of the album and the production is a big part of its overbearing wall of noise and Filth of Mankind‘s ability to emote within this wind-tunnel of sound. No doubt I’ve hardly talked about Misery yet, and probably because this is the first band I’ve mentioned that really keeps some of their Amebix-esque rhythmic threads going while completely doing their own thing. ‘The Final Chapter’ is the absolute best way to pull into the 2000’s, almost setting the bar too high for whats to come. Is it death/crust though? Not if we are to consider what death metal was during this time period but that doesn’t mean there aren’t extreme metal influences at play here in general. Several years after the band would split up the frontman would form notable Boston-area extreme doom metal band Morne.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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So… Although the 90’s might look like a bit of a drought, I’ve at least been able to find some substantial releases here and there. We’ve only just barely touched upon death metal/crust punk hybridization that is intentional but increasing nostalgia for the 80’s and early 90’s will bring some more interesting and purposefully stylized releases into the next decade. Let me know if you think I should stop here and move on to another feature. Or let me know what I’ve missed, I’m sure there is a lot but please make sure we’re talking death/crust and not just crust. Contact me at: grizzlybutts@hotmail.com to help me make this a bit more fleshed out and comprehensive. Thanks for checking this out.


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