Reviews

Scared Earth Poisoned World LP

  • Reviewer Ken Sanderson
  • Label Anomie / Little Jan's Hammer / Phobia / Pike / Ryvvolte

What made DISCHARGE such a powerful band is that they were a reaction to the times. In the early 1980s, the world stood at the brink of any-moment potential nuclear annihilation between the two great superpowers, who played a continual chess game of proxy wars and military funding across the globe. The horror and senselessness of the Vietnam War was less than half a decade from the band’s inception. The power of their music spawned an entire genre, but its continued resonance also grinds in its meaning, what it represented and still represents: a stark rejection of how the powers that be run the world. Stockholm’s SCARED EARTH’s ten-song debut LP carries the torch of D-beat hardcore with members from SVART PARAD, DISSOBER, DOM DÄR. And honestly, despite the pedigree, I was pretty ready to dismiss this as “old guys checking off boxes,” but by side B, Poisoned World stops being perfunctory solid and strong D-beat hardcore, and gets more interpretive and interesting—which is what some of the best Swedish old-timers like AVSKUM and ASOCIAL have done in some of their more recent (and arguably best) records. Opening guitar leads and weird song patterns capture a lot of what was so special about the influence of DISCHARGE in Sweden: They ignited a nation of teenagers to try to figure out how to learn to play hardcore, and the happy, sometimes inept personal expression is a large part of what makes Svensk ’80s and ’90s D-beat records so engaging. This debut’s A-side seems stuck like a lot of senior class punk records: where the musical competency, access to a good solid recording, and desire to capture the spark of their original musical influences regulates some of that personal expression and distinctiveness. It’s more direct and straight-to-the-jugular-forward. But the B-side really does give hope that this band will continue to explore and expand the confines of the really simple formula. The lyrics, largely in English, are shouted in scouring, raw screams; echo and underline blanket rejection of war, and while stark and to the point, there’s not the same kind of defining mood to the early 21st century as the early 1980s. Sure, there are armed conflicts and tragedies happening right now, but the crisis of the time is more complex and basically a slow-motion destruction of the planet by kleptocrats and indifference, so I wish this took the spirit of DISCHARGE’s lyrical intent and, again, inventively applied it to current realities. But inarguably a mandatory purchase if I was at the gig, cranked up and played loud, all of this overthinking fades and this is a killer solid blast of just tried ’n’ true classic Swedish hardcore!!!!