Saturday, November 24, 2012

Deathcharge-The Hangman 7" (2006)

If you read DrugPunk, you're probably aware that one of the latest crazes in underground rock is fusing punk, deathrock, goth, and all things -wave. The result is typically a blackclad stew of chugging Motorhead-inflected riffs, ice-cold synthesizers, and brooding lyrics about death, If you're new to the genre, today's post serves as an introduction to the sound; if you're a bitter old crank like myself, Deathcharge's third 7" is simply a classic and trendsetter for those of us who like The Mob or Bauhaus as much as GBH and the Germs.

Well, Deathcharge was way ahead of the curve on this whole trend. They started cranking out fairly pedestrian Discharge-carbon copy tunes in 1997, and along with fellow Pacific Northwest bands like The Spectres, Bellicose Minds, and Arctic Flowers, are the best that this darkpunk revival has to offer. They were doing D-beat when bands like Earth Crisis were still big, and when they dropped "The Hangman" in 2006, everyone else was busy aping the D-beat style they had already abandoned.

Anyways, this album really threw me for a loop when I first heard it in 2006. I was expecting more D-beat massacres; instead, what you get is a brutally monotonous drumbeat that is synced perfectly with a colossal guitar riff that chugs along at a glacial pace. The singer's voice is halfway to the grave; he alternately mumbles, gurgles, and howls in resigned disgust as he awaits the noose. Midway through, the guitar drops out and a voiceover whispers in the background; it makes the song that much more effective when the guitar comes squalling back to life. It ends abruptly, with a strangled grunt. "New Dark Age" is more of the same: a massive, doom-struck guitar riff that steamrollers the band along. The singer sounds like he's at the bottom of a well, or drowning: bitter, ugly, incoherent mumblings more than lyrics are what you get with Deathcharge. The guitar riffs in the bridge are to die for: wailing brutality that sounds like Motorhead slowed down and flattened out.

Like I said, if you're new to the dark side of punk, start with this. It's one of the best punk records of the last decade, easily. Souciant did a great survey article on this sorta music, which it's labelled "G-Beat,' which is well worth reading. Check out Deathcharge on facebook for show dates, tours, etc.

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