Friday, 11 February 2011

I really like this album, and i wanna tell you why #1 Discharge - Massacre Divine 1991

For many, Discharge ends with the 1985 'Ignorance' 12", the dividing line drawn by the1986 attempt at hair metal with 'Grave New World' lp creating a legacy of indiference or at best extreme caution toward all recordings under the name Discharge that followed after.The 'Grave New World' lp itself is a subject for another day, but right now I wanna talk about the 1990 lp 'Massacre Divine', which in my opinion has sat in the (admittedly fucking lengthy) shadow of 'Grave New World' for far too long.

Firstly, I quite freely admit it doesn't sound like anything Discharge recorded in the early 80's, but so what, every early 80's punk band and their sister was going through a metal phase by the end of the decade. For the critics who moan that they should have kept playing in the old style, how many 'dis' bands can you name that actually write solid memorable tunes, there's only so many ways to thump a d-beat, and if you think it would have been any different with Bones thrashin away on guitar just take a listen to what Broken Bones were doing during the same period.

If we look at this album for what it is and not what we would like it to be i think there are a lot of positive qualities to it. The song structures are quite simple giving an nice punky feel over which they've layered some chunky, memorable riffs, coupled with some nice lead flourishes without slipping into full on solo territory. The rhythm work is also excellent, pounding drums that pummel at all the right points and the much mocked 'funky' bass work works really well in my opinion adding another dimension to the over all sound of the album. Cal's 'Brian Johnson' vocals on this release are another favourite punch-bag amongst Discharge fans, what can i say, they're a damn site better than his high-pitched wailings on Grave New World! The main downside for me though is the lyrics themselves, no lyric sheet came with the lp and its often hard to work out what Cal's ranting about, but in general they seem to quite poetic and abstract. Song titles like Sexplosion and White Knuckle Ride are pretty bad though, especially when Cal's belting them out on the chorus. On the other hand, songs like City of Fear and Terror Police have a great shout-a-long chorus to shake yer fist in the air to.

Perhaps my favourite thing about this lp though is the instrumental E. 2.30 (sounds like its maybe a bass solo?), which reminds me of tracks like Stonehenge by Black Sabbath that leads into 2 remix tracks F.E.D. (F 2 Mix) and Terror Police (F 2 Mix). These remixes bring in a lot of elements, a little dub, a little bit of industrial and hark back to the 'extended versions' they released on the 'Ignorance' and 'The More I See' 12"s, but also brings to mind what Italian thrash band Bulldozer were doing with their 'Dance Got Sick' ep from 1992 - if only Discharge had taken their sound as far as that!

Of course no dissection of this album would be complete without a mention of the cover art, I doubt its any coincidence that they went for the robot version of the Discharge logo the same year Terminator 2 hit the cinemas, or maybe Arnie was a massive Discharge fan? personally i think the cover is ace and captures the move toward a more 'metallic' sound perfectly.

Disinator? Arncharge?

Unsurprisingly after the 'Grave New World' disaster (check here for more on that) it seems from the available live footage of the period that the band stuck to only the old songs at their gigs, which seems a real shame. I can totally imagine the band playing the instrumental E. 2.30 over the PA as an intro before blasting into City Of Fear and closing the night with Dying Time. If anyone seen them during this period or has recordings of the gigs get in touch!

OK kids, remember that punk rock is supposed about having an open mind and the world is not always as black and white (or patch ridden) as your 7" collection would have you believe, put your prejudice to one side and give 'Massacre Divine' a listen, I think you'll be screaming down the road on yer bike screaming along to Terror Police in no time!

As far as I know the album is out of print but I got my copy of ebay for £10 inc p+p and of course there's always google...