I found it to be a pretty neat document on how to get a basic overview of a somewhat complex and inaccessible music genre.
The Essential Crust Punk Albums, for beginners
Hello, Redditor ! So you wanna know what is this crust punk thing but don't know where to start ? Here is a non-exhaustive list of essential albums to help you discover it.
Crust punk is a complex subgenre of punk rock that branches into a multitude of sub-subgenres and styles. It is not another name for grindcore or hardcore punk, although it shares a lot of influences and similarities. The origins of crust punk lie in the early 1980's, particularly in the United Kingdom, where bands fused the politically charged punk of Crass and what was known as speed metal at time (bands such as Motörhead, Venom, or Celtic Frost). The style is usually played at high tempos, but the defining trait of crust punk, almost universally shared by all subgenres, is that bassy, dirty and cold sound. Ever heard of Joy Division ? Now imagine anarchists playing Motörhead-style heavy metal with a similar production and atmosphere, you'll get an idea of what crust originally was. The term "crust punk" was coined by british band Hellbastard on their demo Ripper Crust, but the crust punk sound itself is often more associated with acts like Amebix, Discharge or Antisect. Crust punk evolved a lot during the 80s and kept evolving, especially at the start of the 2000's where proficient musicians and new influences came to the game, building even more subgenres along the original crust punk sound.
With this list, I will try to point you to albums that define or represent well their subgenre. If your favourite album isn't there, it's no big deal, people have time to discover it, it is by no means an exhaustive or a best albums list, just a guide for beginners. Also, I am obviously not as knowledgeable on certain styles, any help in the comments is appreciated and I'll edit the post accordingly.
On to the list, then !
EARLY UK CRUST
The beginning of everything. The early UK crust scene was born out of the anarcho-punk of Crass and the UK82 wave of punk, building on the works of Crass, GBH, or The Exploited ; and added a whole new array of influences to create an entirely new sound. Amebix is considered the true originator of the crust sound, and despite being a unique band, represent well what makes up the core of crust punk : Amebix are notorious fans of Killing Joke, Black Sabbath and Motörhead, and wrapped those influences in the political sense of Crass and kept the dirty sound of albums like Feeding Of The 5000. A cold, bass driven, heavy sound. Other early UK crust went different ways but basically kept the same formula of blending metal influences within punk sensibilities, borrowing sound, fast tempo and a certain musicianship. The early UK crust is sometimes refered to as stenchcore, which is a term coming from Deviated Instinct's demo Terminal Filth Stenchcore and also a reference to the poor hygiene of crusties. While I will include Deviated Instinct in this list, as they are hugely influental, I've come to realize that Stenchcore now has an entirely different meaning and is basically a subgenre in itself. I will cover that.
- AMEBIX - Winter
- AMEBIX - Arise !
- ANTISECT - In Darkness There Is No Choice
- DOOM - War Crimes (Inhuman Beings)
- HELLBASTARD - Ripper Crust
- AXEGRINDER - Rise of the Serpent Men
- SACRILEGE - Behind the Realm of Madness
- DEVIATED INSTINCT - Rock'n'Roll Conformity
D-beat is perhaps the most universally recognizable of the crustpunk subgenre, and arguably its big brother as a lot of its founding bands precede the concepts of crust. It has multiple sub-subgenres itself and gave birth to entire scenes. Just because of a single drum beat. You've heard of "three chords and the truth", I present you "one drum beat and the world". D-beat's entire origin can be traced to a single band : Discharge. The D in D-Beat comes from them, and countless bands use a variation of their name, whether being a Dis- band or -charge band. Discharge took the simplicity and coldness of punk, its politcal consciousness, and blended it with a raging beat inspired by heavy metal, mostly Motörhead. Their sound was heavy, agressive, fast, but undeniably bleak and cold. The main particularity of Discharge amidst the other crust punk bands, was their obssessive use of the famed drum pattern, this "bupp -u-dupp -u-dupp", pioneered by the Buzzcocks and already used in heavy metal, but not as a building foundation of songwriting. Add the bass-led riffing, the minimalistic vocals (two or three sentences, repeated like political slogans), and you get a formula that practically begged to be adopted by others. Discharge and D-beat would eventually become one of the foundations of extreme music to a large extent, way beyond punk and crust punk, but we'll concentrate on D-beat right now. The first D-beat bands emerged in the UK, in close proximity to Discharge themselves, with The Varukers, but it's in Sweden that the genre first exploded with D-beat-sounding records appearing as early as 1979 with the Rude Kids. From this moment, Sweden would be one of the world's top purveyor of D-beat and still remains one of the biggest scene of the genre. Japan and Brazil would prove extremely productive as well, Japan's Disclose being arguably the most important D-beat band after Discharge. D-beat is a rather complex subgenre to pinpoint despite its apparent simplicity, as with the years, lots of subtleties between scenes led to the creation of different terms and it can get very confusing. If you push D-beat beyond this beginner's list, you will encounter terms like kängpunk (for the Swedish style), crustcore (for swedish-inspired, sped up d-beat), raw punk (noisy d-beat in the continuity of Disclose)... It all basically refers to subgenres of D-beat. This list includes a bit of everything.
- DISCHARGE - Why
- DISCHARGE - Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing
- DISASTER - War Cry
- ANTI CIMEX - Raped Ass
- ANTI CIMEX - Absolut Country Of Sweden
- THE VARUKERS - Bloodsuckers
- DISCLOSE - Once the War Started
- TOTALITÄR - Sin egen motståndare
- BESTHÖVEN - Just Another Warsong
- DISCARD - Sound of War
- WARVICTIMS - Världsherravälde
- MOB 47 - Karnvapen attack
AMERICAN CRUST PUNK
I always felt like american crust had to be separated from the rest of the world. While many agree on the identities of japanese crust, brazilian d-beat, or finnish hardcore, I feel like american crust definitely had something different going on. With a rich history of hardcore punk and a brutal political climate in the Reagan years, american crust evolved to its very own kind of bleakness, an angrier and muddier sound, less rooted in an oncoming sense of apocalypse but in an urgent state of action. American crust took its cues from basically everything happening in both Europe and the local hardcore punk scene, and codified most of the ethos crust punk is known for : veganism / vegetarianism and feminism were arguably made more systematic in american bands compared to their european counterparts who relied more often on local politcs and anti-war sentiment. The earliest american crust bands developed on the east coast, particularly with Nausea in New York who laid a lot of the groundwork for american crust ; their proximity with the NYHC scene being probably a reason for their more hardcore punk color. Disrupt in Boston, Antischism further south, and Misery were also among the first important bands, drawing a lot of influence from the UK crust scene and stenchcore ; but the real explosion of american crust came with Aus-Rotten in the 90's who is still arguably the most important US crust band. American crust would get close to power violence and even sludge in later years, spawning outfits like Dropdead or Dystopia. Here are a few essentials of american crust, covering a bit of everything this particular scene could offer :
- NAUSEA - The Punk Terrorist Anthology vol. 1 & 2
- AUS ROTTEN - Not One Single Fucking Hit
- DISRUPT - Unrest
- MISERY - Born... Fed... Slaughtered...
- ANTISCHISM - All Their Money Stinks of Death
- DROPDEAD - Dropdead
I have mentioned it earlier. Stenchcore was a term used for the early UK crust punk, but after many bands rejected it (such as, famously, Doom), it became somewhat obsolete until it started to be used to describe a certain type of bands. Basically, Stenchcore is what happens when crust punk meets death metal. The best example would be the originators of the term : Deviated Instinct, particularly starting with their album Rock'n'Roll Conformity. Stenchcore nowadays refers to crust punk that takes the complexity of death metal, changing tempos and fat sound but keeps the crust dirt, the d-beat obssession and the guttural vocals rather than the shouted Discharge-inspired vocals or the raspy Venom-like growls. Stenchcore is one of the reasons a death metal band like Bolt Thrower is beloved by crusties ; just compare the first Bolt Thrower album to Deviated Instinct or even Hellbastard and you will notice the similarities. Stenchcore bands are often simply put in the crust punk bin, I get the shortcut because it represents a handful of bands, but hey, if you come from death metal like I did a decade ago, this is your gateway.
- DEVIATED INSTINCT - Rock'n'Roll Conformity
- DEVIATED INSTINCT - Guttural Breath
- HELLSHOCK - Only the Dead Know The End Of The War
- BOLT THROWER - In Battle There Is No Law
- INSTINCT OF SURVIVAL - North Of Nowhere
- AFTER THE BOMBS - Relentless onslaught
- EFFIGY - Evil Fragments
- MISERY - The Early Years
- CONCRETE SOX - Your Turn Next
By the late 90's, crust punk was basically old, and so much new genres were born during the decade that it was bound to evolve. The term Neocrust has been thrown around so much and applied to so many different kind of bands that it almost lost its meaning ; but don't fret it definitely refers to a wave of new style of crust, unheard before, that didn't rely only on the early UK sounds or the neverending d-beat sub-subgenres. Neocrust mostly rose from the american scene in the late 90's. It took the heavier crustcore sound of bands like Doom and Disrupt and lead them with a much darker, emotionally driven sound. Neocrust owes as much to the early crust bands as it does to completely different stuff like the early scream of Orchid or Uranus, black metal, or even sludge, and isn't shy on using melodies. Neocrust is probably the most diverse of the crust subgenres as well, as its multiple influences give the bands a much larger array of riffs, atmospheres and patterns. If you come from more modern, 2000's music, this is THE genre for you and I usually advise people to start with those bands (and stadium crust, which I'll cover next) if they never listened to crust before. I highly recommend this to be your starting point. Neocrust came to prominence in America first, through what I call the Trinity of Neocrust : His Hero Is Gone, Tragedy, and From Ashes Rise. While not necessarily the first bands in the genre, those are the three most recognizable and most defining. Tragedy is definitely more on the d-beat side than the others. In Europe, bands like Skitsystem, Martyrdöd and mostly Wolfpack are perhaps the most important of the neocrust wave, blending the dark crust of their american counterparts with d-beat agressivity and melodic metal riffs.
- HIS HERO IS GONE - In the Dead Of Night in Eight Movements
- HIS HERO IS GONE - Fifteen Counts Of Arson
- TRAGEDY - Vengeance
- FROM ASHES RISE - Nightmares
- MARTYRDÖD - In Extremis
- SKITSYSTEM - Enkel resa till rännstenen
- WOLFPACK - Lycanthropunk
- NARSAAK - Vatra
STADIUM CRUST (or melodic crust)
What happens when crusties discover melodic death metal and showers ? Well, Stadium Crust of course ! Now yeah, this is a bit of a derogatory term, but the truth is that stadium crust is awesome. Stadium Crust got its bad rap for being cleaner sounding and general accessibilty, it's easier to get into such a band than Disclose or an old british band for example ; and of course accessibility and clean production values get quick accusations and fears of selling out (but in all seriousness, what money is there to make in crust ? We're all broke, if we weren't, we'd listen to something else). It's often the derogatory term applied to the whole neocrust thing, but I feel like it's a subgenre in itself as a Tragedy clone has nothing to do with a band that will blend melodeath riffs over a top-produced swedish-style käng rager. Stadium crust is basically clean crust with higher production values and lots of melodic death metal-like riffs, built on neocrust / emocrust foundations. Wolfbrigade, the band born from Wolfpack, is perhaps the best example and one of the best damn things crust ever offered. It's a good starter like neo-crust and most bands that I'd label stadium crust are better known of the public. I will admit that this is a bit of a nitpicking of my part, as most of these bands are often lumped in with neocrust or even emo-crust, but I think their melodic approach earn them their own category. It is especially apparent in bands like Disfear.
- WOLFBRIGADE - Comalive
- WOLFBRIGADE - In Darkness There Is No Regret
- DISFEAR - Live the Storm
- VICTIMS - ... In Blood
- INSTINTO - Instinto
- ICTUS - Imperivm
Wait what ? So emo even affected crust ? WHEN WILL IT STOP ? I know it doesn't sound good on paper, but don't worry and hold back your nightmares of bad haircuts and myspace angles, we're talking crust, not scene kids. Emo Crust is another branch of Neocrust, its lighter and more melodic cousin, but free of the melodic death metal influences found in the stadium. Highly influenced by screamo, both the dark screamo of Orchid and the beautifully intense Envy, Emo Crust brings emotion over raging d-beats and a powerful sound. I admit that this is not the genre I am most familiar with, but I retain two names as the most prominent : Ekkaia and Fall Of Efrafa (on Owsla). Spain seems to be a specialist of this style, as with neocrust in general ; just look at the bands orbiting Ekkaia.
- EKKAIA - Demasiado tarde para pedir perdón
- FALL OF EFRAFA - Owsla
- ALPINIST - Minus Mensch
- VLAAR - Vlaar
- MADAME GERMEN - As cicatrizes do paraíso
The polar opposite of Neocrust, Stadium Crust and all the modern clean sounding crust. Crasher Crust is noisy, harsh, uncompromising, it is the logical continuation of Discharge's "Noise Not Music" philosophy, but taken to even more extremes. I often find Crasher Crust put alongside Raw Punk, which is itself one of the many offsets of d-beat (basically a focus on the harsher d-beat bands like Shitlickers and Disclose), but Crasher Crust pushes up the noisy, distortion heavy side of crust so much that I think it deserves its own category. The roots of Crasher Crust are found in Japan, more precisely with the band Gloom. Besides coining the term crasher crust, Gloom built the style around the influence of the most brutal crust bands such, mostly Disrupt and Extreme Noise Terror, and the noisy mess of Sore Throat (perhaps the biggest influence sound-wise). Gloom spawned a generation of crusty noise punk bands, becoming a staple of the japanese punk sound in the 90s, only to be rediscoverd later in the 2000's and currently being quite popular especially in the USA (see the 2019 Manic Relapse fest). Crasher Crust relies on heavy drums, very present distorted bass lines, and an extremely noisy chainsaw-sounding guitar. Some bands like Zyanose ditch the guitars entirely to rely on dual basses and more noise. It is definitely a subgenre relying on sound rather than writing patterns, as you can find anything from D-beat obssessed bands (Zyanose) to Amebix worshippers (Acrostix) and lost british children. Definitely one of the hardest styles to get into, but if you enjoy hearing the most ear-piercing, brutal music out there, you can't go wrong with crasher crust.
- GLOOM - Vokusatsu Seisin Hatansha
- ZYANOSE - Insane Noise Raid
- COLLAPSE SOCIETY - S/T EP
- DECEIVING SOCIETY - Detonation Cruster
- LASTING NOISE ATTACK - Demo 98'
- LASTLY - Crazy Fucked Up Deadly Local
- SCUMRAID - Rip Up
- TOTAL NOISE ACCORD - 拒絶
If I was a cynical bastard I'd say that blackened crust is the latest fad for dudes who want to prove they're trver than you. Fact is black metal and crust have never been closer than lately, even if they have always been sort of second cousins, building on the same influences and nourishing each other (the relation between Venom and Amebix being quite known now, and let's point out what Darkthrone has been doing for basically a decade now, trading blast beats for d-beat). Blackened crust is exactly what it says on the tin : black metal laden-crust. It mostly relies on stenchcore or neocrust and adds norwegian / post norwegian black metal atmospheres ; with some notable exceptions like Dishammer who are explicitely crossing crust punk with 80's black metal and coming full circle. It's a very rich and interesting subgenre, as the cousins tend to blend perfectly. For some reason, the bleakness of crust goes well with the darkness of black metal, and both find themselves at ease in cold lands. If you come from metal, this is a perfect starter. Iskra are often credited with being the first band to explicitely mixing black metal and crust.
- ISKRA - Iskra
- DISHAMMER - Under the Sign of The D-beat Mark
- MARTYRDÖD - Elddop
- DARKTHRONE - F.O.A.D
- GALLHAMMER - Ill Innocence
That's it for now, I probably forgot a lot of things or am just wrong on some, point it out in the comments. I will edit the post according to corrections and suggestions. Remember that this is not supposed to be an exhaustive, historical list of the most important albums, but rather a list of albums to listen to discover crust and its multiple branches. Good luck and welcome to the beginners !