The Formative Years – Where the Cold Things Were in the Eighties
Apart from the new world, Germany, Japan and the UK, Northern European countries when it came to exciting and genre coining bands with the realm of punk and hardcore during the cold war period. Specifically in the Eighties, bands from Nordic countries held a special appeal as they were not only linguistically unique but their uncompromising intensity and originality of their respective emissions was unrivalled and often went on to have more than a subtle influence on the way underground music evolved for years to come.
I am not necessarily proud to say that it was through Rock-O-Rama Records’ mail-order that I got introduced to the second album of Appendix from Finland, which was a gateway to Suomi hardcore at large.
With Appendix not exactly being on the rawest end of the spectrum and actually being quite melodic and well-versed in songwriting alternating faster with catchy slower songs compared to the vacuum cleaner core a lot of their contemporaries produced, I went on to track down their first LP on Propaganda Records from 1983, which was even more to my liking: An instant classic whose influence on other bands from the region cannot be overestimated.
Hooked on the exotic factor that is the aggressive sounding vowel-heavy agglutinating Finnish language, I ventured on to check out and love Riistetyt, who were exciting as they took the essence of what their equivalents from the UK, i.e. Discharge and Disorder, produced, boiled it down and turned it back up to 11 while being much rawer, yet catchier and less monotonous in the process. The fact that in terms of aesthetics they looked like a fairy-tale version of over-the-top studded, mohawked hardcore punks was the cherry on top.
Another Finnish band that perfectioned the melange of D-beat inspired rawness and early US hardcore were Terveet Kädet, who took things to the next level not just in terms of speed and precision, but also in terms of their screamed vocal delivery.
It was through the Cleanse the Bacteria and P.E.A.C.E. compilations that I heard a band from Sweden that instantaneously struck of chord: Mob 47 is to this day one of my all-time favourite bands of the genre. They lead me to bands like Anti-Cimex, whose signature sound of their outstanding “Victim of a bombraid” and “Raped ass” 7”s became the blueprint that inspires crust punk bands the world over to this day.
Norway must be one of the more overlooked European countries when it comes to quality hardcore punk in the Eighties.
Case is point: Bannylyst.
While many of the Scandinavian bands focussed on competing in terms of “faster, louder, harder than thou”-ethics and attempting to create as much dissonant noise as possible, Bannylyst were musically far ahead of their time as they fused the trademark Discharge aggression with more melodic riffing to create their very own, dare I say, more “sophisticated” sound, which while being catchy was not devoid at all of the angst and immediacy that was inherent in other bands that were less inclined to weave a tune into their noisy emissions.
The torch of Bannylyst and their influence was carried on through the fantastic bands the ex-members formed, of which I had the fortune to witness So Much Hate in a live environment. Norwegian punk and hardcore is a treasure trove and I recommend digging deep, especially if Turbonegro is the only band that comes to your mind when thinking of the land of the midnight sun.