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Crust punk is one of the many extreme evolutions of anarcho-punk. Crust was created by fusing elements of anarcho-punk and tinges of metal (arguably early thrash metal) or grindcore to create a unique sound, often characterized by extremely fast hardcore punk based tempos, guttural or shrill vocalization, and a gritty, bass-heavy sound. Although not the same genre, crust is very closely related to and influenced by D-beat, anarcho-punk, thrashcore, crossover thrash, power violence and grindcore.
Many consider the band Amebix to be the godfathers of stenchcore (what crust punk was called before the term was coined), and consider the Arise! LP to be the first known defining crust punk album. Extreme Noise Terror also was a huge influence on most crust bands, leading bands to play faster, unlike Amebix’s sludgy crust. The band Hellbastard, who actually coined the term "crust" (after their 1986 "Ripper Crust" demo), was one of the first bands to play the genre as it commonly recognized today. On the other side of the Atlantic, New York’s Nausea was one of the most influential early North American crust bands. Prototyptical takes on the genre can be traced back to the anarcho-punk and D-beat punk bands of the early ’80s, such as Crass and Discharge. Crass’ minimalistic and unique music, DIY approach, and radical politics are still carried today.
Also massively influential were Antisect, Deviated Instinct, Culture Shock, Electro Hippies, Napalm Death, Disorder, The Mob, Dirt, Celtic Frost, Slayer, Sacrilege, mass unemployment, squatting, the free festival/New age travellers scene, drugs and alcohol. The scene was a natural progression of theories of anarchism/DIY and actually living the dream. Punk was still a threat at this time.
Antisect’s 1985 "Out From The Void" is the defining statement of life in the UK at the time—mentalism and self expression.
Lyrics to crust songs tend to be based around politics, anti-oppression and current events and even some human emotion; topics such as anarchism, financial/emotional depression, environmentalism, racial equality, squatting, non-conformity, feminism and abolishing sexism, animal rights, veganism/vegetarianism, religious control, and nuclear destruction are common themes. Elements of the crust sound can be heard in many anarcho-punk bands, such as those releasing recordings on Tribal War Records, Skuld, Profane Existence, Peaceville Records, Havoc Records, Unrest Records, and Life is Abuse Records.
Crust punks are known for their heavily political outlook on society and life in general. Many squat in abandoned buildings and choose not to seek employment. This can be equated to what Murray Bookchin has called "lifestyle anarchism".
Perhaps the most stereotypical and infamous facet of the persona is the perceived lack of hygiene, as many crust punks seemingly avoid bathing and grooming and women commonly avoid shaving of any body hair. Dreadlocks are also popular. There are several stated reasons for such activity that include, but are not limited to, disdain for the typical socially accepted image of both sexes (or persons in general), wishing to remain free of the toxins and chemicals in many personal hygiene products, refusal to purchase corporate products, or simply the result of living the squatter lifestyle without the accommodations most people are used to. Such beliefs are very similar to, and possibly based on, social ecology and ecofeminism.
In terms of religion, many crust punks are atheist and inspired to live by the ideal of "No Gods, No Masters". However, some crust punks may adopt Pagan spirituality due to its connection to nature, the Earth, and the environment.
Crust punk bands have taken on what is known as a DIY ethic: that is, "do it yourself." In this way one can bypass the traditional recording and distribution routes, with material often being made available in exchange for "a blank tape plus self-addressed envelope". The anarcho-punk and crust punk movement also has its own network of zines which disseminate news, ideas, and artwork from the punk community. Again, these are very much ‘DIY’ affairs, produced in runs of hundreds rather than thousands (in most cases), printed on photocopiers or duplicator machines, and distributed by hand at shows or gatherings. Crust punk has taken this DIY ethic to a farther degree, often refusing to buy any corporate products, screen printing patches and sewing clothing by hand out of found materials, materials specifically bought from other members of the punk community, or local community and small co-ops/companies.
Grindcore is often a direct influence, as the extreme tones and brutal nature of grindcore can be similar to those of crust. Crust was affected by a second wave of influence in the 1990s, with some bands being influenced more by early black metal; Iskra (band) for example, are probably the most obvious modern example of black-metal-influenced crust. Iskra coined their own phrase "blackened crust" to describe this new style. Earlier examples could be found in Black Kronstadt(especially the "Free Spirit" LP). Blackened crust is however generally discounted by fans of black metal, as they often argue that because it is political it isn’t black metal. Of course that is because it is crust punk and not black metal. Other bands that have a blackened crust sound are Martyrdöd and Riistetyt.
Many crust punks with acoustic guitars have found inspiration in "outlaw country" as well as the progressive leaning folk music of the 1960s and ’70s, as well as a huge influence specifically from Woody Guthrie as well as traditional Irish music. This meld of crust and folk is commonly referred to as folk-punk.
In the early 1990s, members of the crust/grindcore band Disrupt formed a band called Grief. Grief’s depressively slow blend of punk and doom metal gave inspiration to the burgeoning sludge metal (aka Sludgecore) genre, along with bands such as Dystopia (band) and Eyehategod.
Another footnote to know is that the early Crust Punk bands from 1977-the 1980’s influenced Thrash Metal bands that became popular during the 1980’s.
Openings into art?
Interesting that art has become the main plank of their advertising. Maybe art never had any autonomy…
and another thing, from Anthony Davies:
"The realignment between the public and private sectors can be seen in the sponsorship debate as it moved from a ‘hands off’ to a ‘hands on’ relationship with cultural events and programming in the late 1990’s. The so-called ‘marriage made in heaven’ where companies would simply pay to be associated with an event, exhibition or performance is now seen as one of many options. Of course companies still pay up but now many want something in return. These ‘returns’ can be linked to social and ethical responsibility, reflected self image, extending networks, building customer databases, training personnel (Arts & Business’ pairing scheme), knowledge transfer, access to the wider community, and more recently, ‘corporate empathy’, UBS Warburg’s hilarious take on the mutual impenetrability of contemporary art and business (UBS Warburg and the British Council Collection ‘Brit Art’ exhibition catalogue, March 2001)."
Surge to merge culture with the economy, 2001