A while back I caught Oiltanker in the midst of the second day of Midwest Hell Fest—a one-off weekend crust punk festival that was happening in, of all places, a sports bar in Kimberly, Wisconsin. I was thoroughly enthralled by the outpouring of anger emanating from the stage while they were up there, yet I was simultaneously battling the inevitable tidal wave of fatigue that washes over even the most well-intended of weekend-long fest goers. Rather than join the growing population of dreadlocked and face-tatted folks passing out with their heads down on high tables, I begrudgingly headed out midway through their set for the comfort of cable TV in my hotel room and the guarantee of cold pizza left over from the previous night’s debauchery. On the way out I snagged their Crusades 7”, which has since held a favorable spot amongst my most-spun records of the last year-and-a-half or so. I had been meaning to pick up their consequent LP, Shadow of Greed, for quite some time but never got around to it. So it comes with vast gladness on my behalf that not only has Southern Lord, continuing their recent crust-cracking mission, assembled both of the aforementioned vinyl-only releases on a limited-release disc, but that it just so happened to land in my review pile.
Hailing from Hartford, Connecticut, one of the oldest and wealthiest cities in the United States, on the surface doesn’t exactly scream crust punk, but Oiltanker's existence is further affirmation of one of the most appealing aspects of crust, that it subsists virtually everywhere bubbling under the surface: angst-ridden, socio-politically conscious, and in stark opposition to the surrounding affluence and excess. And on Shadow of Greed/Crusades Oiltanker accurately conveys the infected scabbiness of fringe society one Dis-beaten track after another. The vocals are gruff, strained, and soiled—as if being shouted through a mouthful of dirt. Although the guitars are thrashing-ly loud and filling, it’s really the rhythm section that lends the band as signature a sound as D-beat will allow. The bass is ever-present, chest-thumping along in commanding fashion, while the drums have a uniquely captivating thud to that pulls you face first, teeth-grinding and all, into the filth and fury.
While many modern crust punk bands tend to incorporate “blackened” aspects (and for good reason, I might add) Oiltanker largely ignores it, save a brief black metal-y guitar part on the standout track "Consume and Grow," and instead sticks to the well-worn hardcore path heavily tread in the ‘90s by bands like Disclose and Wolfpack. There is very little, if anything, original about this but it’s done with all the exuberant viciousness that the genre necessitates. If you’re looking for an example of what straight-forward crust punk sounds like in the present day, well, this is it.
8.0 / 10
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