(review n main pic mwj)
Absolutely reeling still from the grimy self destruction that is a Black Friday in Caernarfon I sought solstice solace in the embrace of a far more civilised style, with a Crustmas celebration in Liverpool. As you know, I’ll travel far and wide for my dose of filthy punk action so it was a bonus to have one of the only 2 UK gigs so far from the reformed legends Antisect so relatively close, so fair play for Foxy from SSS laying this on for us to enjoy under his Thrashgig promotion moniker. It was also winter warming to the heart to have a toy donation collection from attendees for a children’s charity, the spirit of the season and all that.

A good gathering of folks for this, the headliners standing is pretty much beyond reproach, especially under the critical gaze on their own standards of ethics that they have set out in the past. They have emphasised that this isn’t a reunion cash-in but wanting to function as a band again, some 15 years after their split and that only after about a 5 year existence in the 80’s. In that brief period though they (along with Crass and Amebix, who have also recently returned) virtually launched the crust/anarcho-punk genre that, marrying the raw onslaught of simple, relentless metallic riffing and the d-beat drum hypnotism with polemic rants and chants on the ills of the world. That they are held in such high regard is down to their genuine inspiration for a lot that followed, in terms of their honest attitude as well as their beliefs and lifestyle existing in the squat scene in London, dragging punk from nihilistic opposition to anarchic organisation. The relevance remains today with the completely unsurprising tory cunt crack down on the activity, as the same time that many longstanding alternative venues around Europe are also being suppressed, and our own Northern Scum favourite the 1 in 12 club in Bradford suffering under the financial weight of suspiciously onerous authority required improvements.

It’s the first time to this venue in Liverpool, and it’s a good if bizarre one. Next door to cream, it’s a real wonder what exactly goes on on other nights here, as it’s almost got a surreal cabaret feel to the décor, including the xmas trees on stage. Anyway, it’s a great compact sized place with stepped up areas and balconies, maybe only 100 here but a good atmosphere of anticipation

After spoiling myself rotten on vinyl (hey, it’s xmas) we first get Geriatric Unit. New to me despite having a few proper releases out already, the fact that there were two ex-members of UKHC luminaries Heresy in the band obviously rubbed off a lot on their sound. It was pretty similarly hyperspeed hardcore, good and sharp breaks and punchy vocals. We were impressed with the bassist’s see-through bass too, and fair play for giving their merch profits to the 1in12 fund.

I think it’s been 6 years or so since I saw Extinction of Mankind in Bolton and had missed the recent opportunity when they supported Napalm Death in Manchester. They’ve have definitely come on all the stronger now, with an excellent relentless heaviness to their thundering crust, reminding me of earliest Bolt Thrower with their machine like drumming and riffing from our mate Scoot from Doom on guitar. They’ve covered a track of the headliners before and I reckon they’d be chuffed with this opportunity to support them, they put in a fine performance.

The first thing that strikes me about Antisect is that they have a style about them. Not the crust uniform any more but smartened up in their older age, but this in no way deflects from their sonic attack. Sounds great, focused on their dual frontmen, one could pass for a smart far right politician though they are the opposite end of the political spectrum, the other disturbingly reminiscent of the dead dad in This is England. Great interplay and overlay between their forceful vocal lines, the guitar also has some excellent looped riffs while the bass is just non-stop driving lines. “new dark ages”, “channel zero” and “in darkness”, all the messages of their tracks are hammered home, but also there is interesting mixes of their approach, with the vocalists coming in and out or even leaving the musicians to charge things along in their own right. As I say, a real style to their performance and successfully deliver on the impressions of just why they are a special band. Certainly look forward to their onward march and more appearances.