Crust punk (often referred to simply as crust, or stenchcore , or alternatively crustcore ) is a musical genre influenced by anarcho-punk , hardcore punk , d-beat, and extreme metal.
The style, which emerged in 1980s England, most often lists songs with dark, pessimistic lyrics that deal with social and political ills.
The term “crust” is credited by Hellbastard on the Ripper Crust demo, released in 1986.
Crust, as a musical style, is defined in part by its bass-heavy, distorted sound.
It is most often played at a fast tempo with occasional slow parts. The song is often guttural and sometimes growled or howled.
Crust punk takes elements of anarcho-punk from Crass and Discharge, and extreme metal from bands like Venom, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, and Motörhead.
Although the term is primarily associated with Hellbastard, Amebix is considered the founding father of the style with Discharge and Antisect.
Over the years, Crust Punk has developed into a specific aesthetic in terms of lifestyle and fashion, which can be in the gnarly styles of DIY punks around the world. Imagine dumpster dive-chiq and you’re getting close.
Features of Crust Punk Music
Crust punk is a musical form derived from hardcore punk and anarcho-punk , mixed with metal riffs.
The tempo is often fast, but more shortened than thrashcore or grindcore.
The musical sound itself is described as minimalist. Drum tracks are usually fast, and often make use of d-beat.
Crust punk vocals are often shouted or howled by one or two singers. The lyrical content of crust punk is dark and politically engaged.
Crust punk songs are often about nuclear war , militarism , animal rights, police forces, personality, stress states, and fascism.
Amebix is interested from time to time in mysticism and gnosticism.
Malcolm “Scruff” Lewty, guitarist and vocalist of the band Hellbastard, explains the difference between the lyrics used in metal and crust:
“The lyrics in metal are dumb, and totally outdated. Venom was about Satan…and motorcycles…and Satan…and women…and Satan! You know what ? I never woke up one morning saying, ‘Damn! Satan! Let’s go to Hell and see what’s going on there!’ All I have to do is turn on the TV to see hundreds of people dead in an earthquake in the Third World… and all those people starving to death as more and more military spending… It was — and it is always — the reality. All that is heavy metal is just an escape from reality, which leads to a world… let’s say, shitty.”
History & Precursors
The very first influence of the crust punk scene came from the anarcho-punk style of Crass and the d-beat of Discharge.
Swedish d-beat groups like Crude SS, Anti Cimex, Mob, and the Finnish group Rattus also contributed to its development.
Amebix is also inspired by many post-punk bands like Public Image Ltd. , Bauhaus , Joy Division , and especially Killing Joke.
The proto-metal music of Black Sabbath and Motörhead strongly inspire Amebix and Antisect.
The crust was launched by the groups Amebix and Antisect, in 1985, thanks to the album Arise and the single Out from the Void , respectively.
The term “crust” was first used by Hellbastard on their Ripper Crust demo released in 1986.
Ian Glasper , specialist in punk history explains that “it was in Ripper Crust that the term ‘crust’ was for the very first time used in the punk context, hence the launch of the crustcore genre which some would attribute to groups like Disorder, Chaos UK, and Amebix a few years earlier.”
Malcolm “Scruff” Lewty, lead singer and guitarist of the band, comments that, “A lot of people say we started the crust-punk genre, but whatever. If that’s what they think, I don’t care, but I’m not Malcolm McLaren , who says he made something up when it’s wrong.”
Music scholar Felix von Havoc considers Doom , Excrement of War, Electro Hippies and Extreme Noise Terror to be the first few British crust bands. Other musical subgenres emerge soon after.
Deviated Instinct, from Norwich, launch the ‘stenchcore’, blending ‘imagery and sound — dirty and metal-oriented, respectively — into their music.
Originally an anarcho-punk group, the group is inspired by metal.
Julian “Leggo” Kilsby of the band comments: “We were part of the anarcho scene, first of all, very politically engaged.”
Extreme Noise Terror is credited with developing the grindcore style.
However, Pete Hurley, the band’s guitarist, says he never had an interest in the style: “‘Grindcore’ is just a stupid term used by kids in the West Midlands, and we had nothing to do with it. ENT was, is, and—assuming—always will be a hardcore punk band…not a grindcore, stenchcore, trampcore, or any other kind of -core you might find.”
American crust punk was launched in New York , also in the mid-1980s , thanks to bands like Nausea.
The band formed in the Lower East Side scene and the New York hardcore scene with Roger Miret of Agnostic Front.
The early songs of Neurosis, a band from San Francisco, shared those of Amebix, and represented West Coast crust punk Disrupt (Boston), Antischism (en) (South Carolina), and Destroy (Minneapolis) are also important bands in the American crust scene.
An important band in the American crust punk scene is called Aus Rotten, from Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania.
Crust punk is also emerging in Minneapolis, led by the Profane Existence label .
During this period, the crust punk ethic extended to subjects such as vegetarianism, feminism , and sometimes the straight edge claimed by certain groups on the scene.
The powerviolence scene associated with the Slap-a-Ham Records label approaches crust punk, as is the case with Man Is the Bastard and Dropdead.
The crust is also spreading in South America where the labels Prank Records and Crimeth Inc. popularize the genre.
The southern crust is mainly represented by His Hero Is Gone.
Crust punk bands (Driller Killer, Totalitär, Skitsystem, Wolfbrigade, and Disfear) emerge in parallel in Sweden, and are mainly associated with the d-beat scene.
A few notable 2000s crust bands involve Iskra, Behind Enemy Lines, and Tragedy.
The 2000s also saw the emergence of the scene in the city of A Coruña, Spain , with bands like Black Panda, Ekkaia, and Madame Germen.
Fusion with other genres
Amebix was inspired by Killing Joke, which is one of the founding bands of industrial rock with which crust punk has always been associated.
Nausea also incorporates elements of industrial rock.
Crust also influences the grindcore genre.
The first grindcore genre, played by British bands like Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror , emerged from the crust scene.
This style is called “crustgrind”.
The thrashcore and powerviolence genres , developed by hardcore punk bands are related to crust, as is the case with Man Is the Bastard , Dropdead, and Capitalist Casualties.
Crust punk bands like Amebix, draw inspiration from the first wave of black metal involving Venom and Hellhammer, Celtic Frost.
In a similar way, Bathory was initially inspired by crust punk and metal.
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