Crucial Records #5 : Infest – Slave

By Tieuma

Dear readers, here’s the new intallment of this serie and I want to give a shout out to a friend who will recognize herself, because she inspired me to review this band. She found some while ago a first press of INFEST’s No Man’s Slave in perfect condition and, as I couldn’t choose between all the bands I wanted to review, it was clear for me I had to do INFEST one day or another.

Though, we won’t talk about the above said records but about ’88 Slave. In the first issue I told you about how subjective those choices could be, and to be perfectly honest, I think this review is a more sentimental one, and maybe if my hardcore education wasn’t link to this records, I would have choose another one, but let’s face it, choosing between all INFEST records is kind of hard, and if my arguments right here don’t convince you, I can totally understand as this review will more look like a fan letter than anything else.

Last note for xTJx : don’t worry, you’re not encroaching on my territory but better look over your shoulders the next few days. Just kidding here’s the review check it out.

Caaaaaalifornia. The hometown of Wishingwell records, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES and DEAD KENNEDYS, mixed with sun and skateboard, but it’s also the hometown of the almighty INFEST, and I trully believe those west coast home team are a heavy influence to the band, and I’m not joking here, because when they formed in 1986, they didn’t know about Powerviolence and the fastest band they knew were NAPALM DEATH, playing something called grindcore at the time. I have to ask them, but I suppose they thought they were just playing hardcore punk, faster and angrier than their OCHC pals, but still drawing from the same influence. But what INFEST did with this release is to go further than playing fast and be angry, they showed everyone you can put out a great Hardcore Punk without much musicianship. Because you have to put Slave on its context, 1988, the same year of YOUTH OF TODAY’s We’re not in this alone amongst others, the age of heavy metal influenced hardcore, with solo and melodies. But they just went their own way.

Wikipedia states they were “countering the obligatory “band in action” album covers common to the era”, which is totally wrong if you want to know, because they were just paying respect to the bands like Discharge, and I won’t list the band who didn’t copied the Youth Crew wave. But this cover is a little different than the rest of their release and I’ll be honest, is pretty ugly. This drawing looks like a bad Death Metal cover or a good Grindcore one, shoot, but it’s growing old for good, only the insert is interesting but nothing much (hey, they band in action pictures in it wikipedia, what you gon’ do hu ?) Anyway I won’t extend myself on that issue. The record was released on Off The Disk records in 1988 and rereleased by Deep Six and Draw Blank records throughout the years, the last reedition is apparently from 2010, as its stated on Discogs.

The important part lies here and even though I worte there’s not much musicianship involved, the music of INFEST is still a huge monument, and where do I begin. This LP is basically a blend of fast, short ad equally good songs, 18 noisy and brutal delivery of raging hardcore punk. The most suprising thing is the quality of the riffs, I mean there’s some sort of thinking in all that mess, even some metal influence or there, but only the heavy side of course, because if you search any meldoy what so ever in INFEST’s music, you’ll be quite disapointed. They even left room for moshing on their songs, which please me a lot, to have band that goes so fast and so hard at the same time, Sick-O is a good exemple of those metal influence and moshable riffs and then you go directly to the intro of Plastic, because it wasn’t enough you know. And it goes on and on. 18 songs for 20 mintues long and not boring, not even one track is to get out of this records, but apparently they went out of songs name because there’s already 3 of them including “Sick”. Pretty sick.

Production wise, it’s surprisingly good, for the time period and the genre, as a lot of slower and more technical records sounds more shitty than this. Still, the guitar could have been dubbed a bit, it lacks power and impact, but I supposed they didn’t care, because it’s a constant on INFEST sound to have a simple one track guitare running. Also, there’s no bass frequence, which is weird but only plays good for the band as it gives a cutting edge to their sound, a more aggressive sound to already super aggressive compositions.

Denunzio’s vocals are also a huge highlight on this LP, because for me, they never were more raging, and never will be. They depict rage itself, and I’m not joking, because, alongside with the lyrics he wrote, it’s a only a hard rain on a fucked society. This guy was angry as hall when he recorded, and that’s for sure. And I can hardly compare it to something else, because it’s not pissed, it’s way higher than that and still, he is not screaming ! That’s the most amazing part, he’s just shouting between his teeth out of anger. It’s maybe what I love the most on INFEST actually, because the compositions are tight, but this level the all thing up way too high, and nowadays, many bands should take it as an exemple : if you want your music to sound pissed off, don’t forget to find a really angry and furious singer, it’ll help the whole thing a lot.

As always, the lyrics also play an important part on the band’s general power. Because Joe sounds angry but he is for sure, and he despise society as hard as he can. No poetry involved here, you just take your load of hate and go home, and you better not complain. It straight forward but still intelligent, with criticism of the scene on Where’s The Unity or Sick And Tired, which you know pleases me. Don’t get me wrong, I love hardcore (I really do), but I think self criticism is important and I value bands doing it right, like INFEST, and the thing is those songs are still up to date these days, which is a shame I have to say. Voice Your Opinion and Pickled are personnal favorite, but as you can see, there’s multiple songs against machism, and not about feminism, which is kind of interesting too, because again, it’s self criticism and not theorizing something you don’t know shit about, talking for others, and I love the way he brings it lyricallywise. Of course, they’re thrashing american way of life and Reagan government, classic but solide and kind of still up to date, too. Finally there’s those weird “I’m psychopath !” type of lyrics, way before DISTURBED or COAL CHAMBERS existed (let’s us be serious, I wanted to reference those bands just fro the trick one day or another, take it or leave it), but I don’t understand the point, I believe it’s personnal stuff, the songs still rocks anyway.

All in all, there’s not songs about stupid nihilism or extinction of mankind, it’s intelligent and still straight forward enough for everyone to understand, simple words to explain complicated matters. INFEST lyrics will always rings out for me, especially those Slave one’s and I still read them with the same interest as the first time, proving you can play fast, angry and hard hardcore for hardcore and still talk about society without being an idiot.

Slave is definitly my favortie INFEST records, for all those reasons, and many more linked to more personnal stuff, but to sum up it show me everytime I listen to it, how much you can not care about the muscianship and still be killing it, make people mosh and talk about important matters. In all it’s brutallity and rawness, this record is almost perfect to me and it still triggering my anger everytime I’m listening to it, with no songs to put aside, which is clearly a hard task when you write down 18songs lasting more or less 1minute each. Only the artwork is a failure to me, but at this point I’m not really caring about it. INFEST are huge, this record is huge and either you call it Powerviolence or whatver, this record is a milestone in my hardcore punk education, and in the hardcore punk history in general.


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