108 may have been one of the major proponents of the "Krishna core" movement of the early to mid 1990's in the hardcore and punk scene, but the religious or ideological essence of their music does not even come close to overshadowing the energetic, passionate music that they produced over their short but relatively productive lifetime. At this point it would seem to be useless to mention the make up of the band, but over the years the band had been comprised of a myriad of notable bands from that day: Resurrection, Threadbare, Texas is the Reason, Beyond, and probably the biggest, Inside Out. Although some might consider the Texas is the Reason link as more important.
108 were furious and the fact that they have come back is a delight to my increasingly nostalgic ears. This discography of sorts (they are missing some good covers) is nice to see after having so much of their material unavailable to the general public for a while, especially considering their last album Three Fold Misery and EP Curse of Instinct were put out by the super shady Lost and Found records in Europe. They are both included here minus the aforementioned covers from the EP. There is also one unreleased song, "Panic," from an aborted batch of songs that were intended for a full-length circa 1995.
Getting down to the meat of Creation. Sustenance. Destruction., the music here is awesome and combines intense music with righteous fury. There are some great songs on here. After not listening to their records for a while and then hearing all of this at once, I feel as though they are criminally underrated. Get over the fact that much of topical focus of their lyrics is religious based and what is left is a great body of work.
Straight from the superbly driving opening bass line of "Rise" (which is a great song), Creation. Sustenance. Destruction. is an intense ride. Other standout tracks would be "Blood," "When Death Closes Your Eyes," "Mantra Six," "Curse of Instinct," "Opposition," "Deathbed," "Son of Nanda," "Solitary," "Pale," and "I Defy." There is a ton of material on this release with a lot of quality songs on it. I am sure that this small sampling does not even cover it for some.
"Blood" is full of jangly guitar riffs, beefy bass lines (including a devastating bass solo), and a great vocal arrangement that fits the song perfectly. "When Death Closes Your Eyes" sounds like a straight-up hardcore song. It is chunky sounding and fast paced. There is a vocal part (the cadence is similar) that sounds like Ink & Dagger in it. "Mantra Six" has a crazy angular guitar riff that is complimented by a song that is reminiscent of what Inside Out pulled off at one time or another. "Curse of Instinct" kind of has a jammed out feel to it. The song employs quite a good use of dynamics that creates a layered track that is interesting. The bass breakdown that counterpoints with vocals is excellent. It almost sounds like the song comes apart that and then re-coalesces later.
"Opposition" leads off disc two the way it lead off its original album Songs of Separation. It is really short, but topically goes a long, long way. "Deathbed" is intense. It alternates between an almost spoken word piece that is accompanied by bass and a scorching almost dirge-y sounding screaming band. "Son of Nanda" has a strange rhythm that propels the song. It includes a bridge part that features female vocals (which was something of a rebellious statement in Krishna circles because of their attitudes towards women singing). "Solitary" is aptly named. It is a slower piece, but it gets across its emotional attachment all too well. "Pale" has a great set of lyrics. This is a great song to see them play live. "I Defy" is another crowd pleaser from the Holyname record (which is finally here in separate tracks, another bonus to this record, rather than as one long track that made it difficult to navigate). This song has a great sing-along part for everyone to get into. It also has a suspicious guitar riff that seems to have been used by another proponent of the Krishna core movement, Shelter.
The unreleased song, "Panic," is pretty good and stands next to the rest of 108's body of work. It makes me interested to know what else was on that unfinished demo/album. I wonder why they didn't include that here. I also wonder why the covers that 108 did were left off. Their versions of Black Flag's "The Bars", Bad Brains' "Coptic Times", and The Misfits' "Death Comes Ripping" were all pretty good and would have been nice to have here.
Overall, Creation. Sustenance. Destruction. is an expansive retrospective of a hyper energetic band. 108 deserve more than a footnote in the annals of hardcore/punk as a legacy. Maybe with this collection, more people will hear their scathing brand of music. It is well worth the price of admission. The extensive liner notes and abridged history of the band included in the booklet are a welcome addition to the total package. Other than the odd omissions, this is a great release.