Earth Crisis / Crackdown / Canvas / Ackbar

Birmingham Foundry

April 17 1999

It's Friday, so it must be Brimingham. Time to rooooooock. Sorry, on a bit too much of an autopilot mode at the moment. Anyway, I tried to stay off that mode for the interview that took place with Karl before the gig.

But now we turn our attention to Ackbar. One of seemingly mythical bunch of Birmingham based bands that I've heard much about but nothing by at the moment. There's a list of them from the area. Spine, Ackbar, Intention, Step Back, Noisegate, Sally, Hangnail, The Harpies, Opiate. Some I've heard, some I've not. But makes you think there's probably a bit of a scene in Birmingham, so do try and check it out. Anyway, Ackbar. Metallic hardcore in which the music is metal, the vocals are hardcore. And quite nice it was too, with some nice grooves and riffs going on. It's a bit tricky in one short moment to totally define something, so I'll try and leave that for another time when I've heard the CD. It was also the last gig I believe with their current drummer, and so as a farewell to him, they play a cover of Slayer's South of Heaven. Except the vocalist doesn't know the lyrics and so the guitarist supplies those that he knows. Which is just about the chorus only. Surreal kind of way to end a stint with a band.

Canvas are from Leeds, and in some respects the odd ones out here. Which may account for the long delay before they commence due it would seem to technical gremlins and noises which if they weren't samples sounded like electrics in a not very happy mood. But they eventually start. And what can you say? Well, afterwards it was described as like "one long song", to which I offer that song would perhaps be an overstatement. This is kinda abstract music, noise in places, more structured in others. It's more discordant than I remember from the album, and vocally an exercise in the noises that can be made from the throat rather than singing. Which means you either have to be in a particular mindset to enjoy it, or from the school of noise art. I'm not really from the latter, I can appreciate some, but it depends on my mindset more than anything on the evening. Tonight I kinda enjoyed it, which may or may not have something to do with me being on a bit of the autopilot right now.

Crackdown bring more structure to proceedings. Described by some as an Italian Biohazard maybe unfair, but also maybe pretty accurate. Though there's no "Brooklyn muthafuckers" from them. Instead it's half an hour of enjoyable hardcore which intermittently gets a pit going from the crowd. Before the final track, Never, the vocalist informs that they hope to return in November on a headlining tour. They may be good, but that may be being slightly hopeful at the moment.

And so finally to Earth Crisis. I only actually own the Breed The Killers album which I bought not long ago in some kind of preparation for that interview that took place. Another band that I've meant to get round to a lot sooner, but sometimes finances restrict you more. Anyway, they open with End Begins, and from there it's an hours run through of stuff, with the new album dominating proceedings.One Against All is introduced as being "one of the most important songs from the new album", while Breed The Killers itself is one of the best. Gomorrah Seasons End is dedicated to "all my straight edge brothers and sisters", and sees much singing of the "I am straight edge" refrain.

The performance itself is standard HC. Jumps aplenty, lots of singing into the microphone and attempts to encourage that unity and brotherhood. For me it probably didn't work quite as well as the astounding Better Than A Thousand gig here three days ago, but that's just me. Ultramilitance comes and goes, and gets discussed quite a bit in the interview. Before long it's all time to end, and All Out War rounds things out. The looks all round suggest that both band and punters enjoyed, which is a result. There's a few words about upcoming Animal Rights marches, which is to be expected, and it's time for me to drive home. Which I don't wanna do, cos I wanna sleep now.

And now I've got to decide what to do today, which is the next day as I write this. There's about 5 gigs I'm interested in, but the two main ones are both all dayers, and to be honest, after something like 6 gigs in the last 8 days, best part of 500 miles driving I guess, and not a lot of progression on the thesis in work, I don't feel the energy to do that. So why do I feel guilty about perhaps not going to a gig and taking some time out to myself?


Subvert - My Greater Energy



Donít know anything about this band, though the name is naggingly familiar, but I do know that Iíve just received this 5 tracker through the post, and so Iím now going to review it.

First track up is Choked, which gives off an angst filled hardcore feel. At least in the vocals. But itís got more of a groove laden riff than you may normally expect. Itís like the vocalist Jim is doing the apocalyptic exploding head bit, and the the rest of the band, Mark on bass, Reuben on guitar and Nick on drums are just there grooving, laid back, telling you to relax. Almost contradicting each other. And then it breaks down into a sparse middle section. Which means itís already got a fair bit of variation.

And itís that variation that Iím thinking I want them to explore as second track Device starts up. Luckily the band manage to do that. It predominantly looks to ride on the back of grooves, but thereís plenty of subtlty in here as well. Occasionally it does tend to border on the sligthtly generic, like on My Greater Energy, but for the most part, this is a fine release that bodes well for the future. The vocals are quite raw at times, but itís in a good way. Thereís an edge, but it manages to stay in control. Straightjacket showcases probably the most instant riff and appeal in any of the songs while Black Canvas goes from delicate and sparse to a fairly doom laden riff. And all the while the whole thing is pushed along by some busy drumming.

I guess in part this depends on your outlook on music. If you only want the "next big thing", or want something that is "totally original" and believe that only "successful bands equals good music" then youíll probably find fault. But thatís a boring approach to music. Nothing is totally original anymore. And success doesnít equal quality. Me, Iíd say this is better than, oooh, say Spineshank for example. Itís different, and it wonít get the same sort of publicity. But then, theyíre not on RoadRunner. So we canít expect the magazines to do a feature on them. Just as thereís nothing wrong in being able to headline Wembley Stadium, thereís nothing wrong in NOT being able to. This is not going to see the band headline Wembley. But itís still a very cool release, one that is worthy of your attention. If youíre so inclined.

Oh God yeah, they were on the first Lockjaw Records compilation. I remember now that Iíve just been looking at the bloody CD. Thought I knew the name!

Available on Black Canvas records, who I believe are a new label set up by one of the band. Theyíre also looking to put out some compilation albums, so, if youíre in a band, get in touch with them. The next one is more punk oriented apparently. But if labels are looking to give bands a chance, then give them the support that they deserve for doing so.

Black Canvas Records, 5 Bessemer Rd, NR4 6DQ.