Mankind? Discography LP
In ten-plus years, this is probably my most personally-invested review; one that brings back a lot of important memories for me, as I am sure this release will be for many of you readers, too. In 1996, I moved from NY to New Haven, CT for art school. But what I learned and gained in New Haven, besides some lifelong friends, was that the city’s punk scene was extremely active in socio-political activism, from benefit shows, Food Not Bombs, and protesting the retail and polluting spaces and industrial zones in the area. Various anarchist proactive reactions were happening. Punk was actually happening, in real life (prior to this cyber age we are in now, but I digress). A club downtown called the Tune Inn was where I would begin going from NY, and of course continued to, when I lived in New Haven. Politically, the scene was heavily anarcho-voiced, with sounds ranging from street punk to grinding crust. I was very interested in all of this. Distros, pamphlets, tabling; the message and this movement. MANKIND? was winding down around this time, but I befriended Chris “Picasso” who went on to form a couple lesser-known acts like ARCHAIC PAX and ANGUISH as well. Of course, Bill Chamberlain of BEHIND ENEMY LINES, the PIST, REACT, and DEVASTATION was on guitar and concurrent vocals in MANKIND?, with Al Ouimet and Rick Abott also of the PIST, Stacey of CALLOUSED (on vocals as well), and Jeff Wilcox of BRUTALLY FAMILIAR. In sound, MANKIND? initially could be compared to DIRT, with some balance of NAUSEA (their cover of “Electrodes” is included on this), though they were more contemporaries of CONFLICT, ICONS OF FILTH or AUS-ROTTEN in tone. But today I can only say this is MANKIND?—the one and only. Chris has full lungs on every measure and every track, and Stacey’s delivery is just as relentless, firing off passionate, detailed lyrics with backing exclamations throughout. Really, the balance between Stacey and Picasso is the voice of thousands and a conversation in solidarity. As the ’90s moved on into the millennium era, the lyrical writing style of many punk bands became pithier. Vaguer. Metaphoric. I am not saying this is lazy at all, but MANKIND? was far from that on every measure. The messages were clear and highly detailed. This was not a punk band I could simply agree with. MANKIND? and the surrounding scene forced me to question my own white suburban comforts. Animal liberation, sexism, and homophobia, Ecocide and nuclear power, The fucking death sentence. The remastering here is incredible! I have two MANKIND? EPs and the Pogo Attack compilation, but this sound engineering blows everything I’ve ever heard from the band to smithereens. The strings are incredibly fuzzy and crispy, the vocals, main and backing, are a forefront of rage and skepticism. The drums have never sounded so impactful. The playlist does not skip a beat of intense DIY attitude, Freedom, awareness and equality—outro-ing with their cover of CRASS’ “Punk is Dead.” Included you get a gorgeous collection of color photos, flyers, handwritten lyrics, setlists, photos of pins from that time period, all the liner art from releases and comp appearances, a thorough explanation of “WHY” [sic] they use a question mark in their name, and current ideas of how to make a difference in your area or on a larger scale. In short, this is an amazing collection of the efforts from MANKIND? and a reminder of the roots of punk, and really the point of caring about it, wherever you stand in DIY punk. “Hopefully I’ve made an impact and I’m not just wasting my breath…Punk’s not dead if you know the cause.” MANKIND? certainly got that then, and clearly still does. Yes, you need this!