Posts Tagged ‘1984’

Southern Lord & DVL Recordings

12 June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Reviewing Record Store day releases feels a shade cruel in some respects. Since they pretty much all sell out within a couple of hours, with participating record stores looking like a cornfield stripped by locusts by 11am after hungry collectors and traders have queued round the block since dawn to buy up anything and everything they can get their hands on (more often as not nowadays to resell at massively inflated prices. But who do you blame for this? The system is screwed), reviewing any RDS release feels like a posturing gesture of ‘look what you could have won’. But some releases warrant a wider exposure, ad perhaps, ultimately, a wider release, and this is one of them.

Neon Christ formed in 1983 and having taken a break in 1986, they’ve been more or less dormant ever since, with their career’s recorded output consisting of just one eponymous ten-track EP released in Jube ’84 and an appearance on a compilation album: On Labor Day 1984, the band recorded four tracks in the home studio of Nick Jameson, of Foghat fame, and from this, ‘Ashes to Ashe’" was included on the International Peace/War compilation released by MDC’s R Radical Records.

Guitarist William DuVall wrote an album’s worth of songs in 1985, but only ‘Savior (Drawn In)’ was ever recorded in what would be the band’s final studio session on 26 December 1985 (the master tapes were lost).

And so 1984 contains everything committed to tape by Neon Christ which still survives (which was all recorded in 1984, bar the one 1985 track which doesn’t feature here – which is fair enough, as it sits outside the band’s one explosive year).

Side one features the original Neon Christ 7” EP, and side two contains the four songs of the Labor Day session.

These recordings are over thirty-five years old, but they’re still dynamite. The early-mid eighties really were the apogee of the hardcore punk scene, and it’s perhaps integral to that history that bands burned brightly and briefly. Scenes are rarely best represented by recorded output or longevity, but the immediate buzz. Anything left for posterity is a bonus, and 1984 is that bonus that documents the brief and explosive existence of Neon Christ.

That first EP is fiery, frenetic, and raw as hell. Of the ten tracks, only one breaks tr two-minute mark. It’s rough and ready, the production isn’t so much primitive as non-existent, ad everything really is played at a hundred miles an hour as they blast through back-to-back blasts of fury ass mere minute long each. They do go a bit mellow and indie at the start of their titular track, but in no time it’s hell for leather thrashing, and overall, the pace of this album is blistering.

The Labor Day EP is slower, denser, less primitive. The songs feel more realised, and I would say ‘more produced’ – but it’s all relative, since the production prior was truly zero. The vocals and playing are both still rough and ready and nothing on offer here could ever be described a slick or polished. This is proper hardcore and is more than merely a historical document.

AA

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