Punk, like most musical genres has taken many twists and turns over the years and has thrown up bands that exist under the same umbrella that bare little sonic and ethical resemblance to each other.
Without debating the starting point we have reached the stage where the movement ranges from the major label, multi-million albums selling, shimmering, light Punk Pop of say Blink 182 and the vicious, underground, anti-corporate, hardcore laced stylings of Minor Threat.
Whilst some corners took the original blueprint and somehow managed to turn it into a ‘Hot Topic’ fashion parade concerned with identikit, merch hungry fans, others were huffing glue, drinking battery acid like cider, wearing charity shop clothing and hocking a loogie at authority.
Former around about 2003 by Swedish one man noise machine Jocke D-Takt, Electric Funeral (not to be confused on current Google searches with American Black Sabbath tribute act) pedal brutal, angry, grimy, pissed off music that definitely falls into the latter category. This is no love sick, cheeky sloganeering, this is a raw and visceral manifesto that reeks of Discharge and DRI and reveals in its hostility and confrontational nature.
Southern Lord have made a niche for themselves in recent years taking cult bands that are inactive and giving their back catalogues to the full reissue treatment and now they have thrown their weight behind Electric Funeral with this years long player, Total Funeral. Here they want to give those who missed the chance to experience the band first time around something special as well as bring their profile back to the record buying consciousness.
This compilation is a treat for anyone wanting to get their hands on a comprehensive document of the bands music. Not only is Total Funeral an assembly of Electric Funeral’s best output, it is in fact a complete discography! Clocking in at an hour and a half, it comprises of 53 short, sharp shocks that make up everything they have ever released and even a few things they didn’t.
This features all of their singles, EPs, compilation appearances and even the split release with Go Filth Go as well as tracks from each period which didn’t make the cut, all lovingly put together to give you everything a D-Beat fan could ever want from the band. For those who aren’t too hardcore Punk there is even a swanky 2 LP version for you to get your mitts on.
Basically if you like dirty, fast, savage Punk rock/D-Beat/Crust – call it what you want – and need an album that lasts more than twenty minutes, this is a fully immersing experience. The album charts every step of the bands development as D-Takt refined his vision over each release.
When I say ‘refined’, this is obviously a subjective term as to the casual ear nearly every song on Total Funeral starts with a discordant whine of feedback before growing into a full tilt expression of snarling rage with breakneck drumming, discordant scything guitars and bug eyed distorted vocals that rockets along at a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pace and cares nothing for your sensibilities; like a brick hurled through your front window by an ASBO sporting yoof with a can of Tenants Super in his hand.
Over the course of the album however there is a subtle change in the musical tone and that is not just a result of the production raising itself from the lo-fi to the wilfully fuzzed out. It may have been almost glacial in the shift but the loose buzz saw chords became more precise and more metal influenced; the churning became more thrashy, the thinner sound more beefy and solos more unashamed. Given D-Tackt’s stints in bands like Paranoid, Desperat and Warvictims to name but a few, it is clear that this music was a calling, not some flash in the pan and here fans will be delighted to be able to get their hands on Hervester of Death, Make Noise Not War, D-Beat Noise Attack, Make A Change, Grondalen, In League With Darkness and Order From Disorder.
These 53 tracks are brash and unapologetic and it becomes almost impossible to single out any individual tracks for specific attention as they fly by, and that is the problem for me with Total Funeral.
On vinyl there are natural breaks so I can understand the format, but on a digital release, then the compilation is a relentless battery of very similar sounding songs.
For an hour and a half.
In some ways Southern Lord’s greatest triumph is also their greatest downfall.
If you’re a dedicated fan of Hardcore Punk/D-Beat/Crust, never mind one of Electric Funeral, then you’ll be in hog heaven at the thought of an uninterrupted blast of relentless indignation that will have you reeling around the dance floor with your arms whirling like windmills.
If however you are uninitiated or a casual fan coming to see what all the fuss is about, I can imagine that unless you are willing to put in the time to listen to Total Funeral again and again or have the motivation to break it down into manageable chunks to digest, that for the most part it could be quite unpalatable.
Label: Southern Lord
Band Links: N/A
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden