Celebrating 40 years since the release of their debut single ’Realities Of War‘ in 1980, British hardcore punk band Discharge are surviving pioneers of the subgenre they invented; D-beat. Having had a worldwide influence on both extreme metal and punk with their uncompromising, raw sound over the last 40 years, Discharge‘s political message is now relevant more than ever. Still performing globally in clubs and at festivals, the quintet are heralded as one of the godfathers of the political and anarcho punk scenes. Heavily championed by John Peel in their early years, they clocked up several chart singles and albums and went on to influence metal bands like Metallica and Celtic Frost, as well as punk acts like Rancid.
’Protest And Survive – The Anthology‘ – released February 21st through BMG on 2CD digipack (with 20-page booklet) and gatefold double splatter vinyl, celebrates the bands 40th anniversary with a 53-track career spanning vicious aural onslaught. Not for the weak of heart, the Stoke-On-Trent punk icons remain true to their ’noise not music‘ mantra and still detonate a sound akin to a bomb going off, to equal the heavyweight lyrical themes of war, oppression and corruption.
Today we get the opportunity to hear an unreleased track called ’Descending Into Madness‘, recorded back in 2002 with original vocalist Kelvin and as unrelenting as anything the band delivered in their heyday.
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“As we were writing the tunes for the 2002 album, me and Bones felt that Kelvin was not doing too much to contribute, so we didn’t really know how it was going turn out until the demo,” explains founding member Tezz Roberts. “We did it in Stoke and let me tell you, we breathed a sigh of relief when we heard his voice was back! It’s not the finished product but you get the gist of it!”
The Discharge story actually started several years earlier than ’Realities of War‘ though, back in early 1977, when budding guitarist Roy ’Rainy‘ Wainwright started the band with vocalist Terry ’Tezz‘ Roberts. Joined by bassist Nigel Bamford, drummer Tony ’Acko‘ Atkinson and Tezz‘s brother, ’Bones‘ (Tony Roberts), the formative Discharge demos, whilst an enjoyable enough exorcism of teenage frustration and boredom, sound very little like the blistering powerhouse they eventually became, owing a huge sonic debt to the Sex Pistols, especially in Tezz‘s interpretation of John Lydon‘s trademark sneer.
’Realities of War‘ was a huge hit upon release, especially once it was picked up for regular rotation by seminal DJ John Peel, and it spent 44 weeks in the then-important UK Independent Chart, where it peaked at a very respectable No. 5. The jagged aural attack of ’Realities…‘ was then honed to a razor-sharp edge for the second EP, ’Fight Back‘, that saw the band developing not only their sound but their social conscience, frontman Cal‘s impassioned lyrics raging against authority, corrupt institutions and the injustices of war, the black-and-white imagery, the minimalist production values and the pacifist stance all crossing over with the anarcho punk scene that was growing in the wake of Crass.
It was the third Discharge EP, ’Decontrol‘, issued through Clay in late 1980, that saw them realise their full potential and become a genuine force to be reckoned with (’Decontrol‘ reached No. 2 in the Indie Charts) and 1982‘s ’Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing‘ album, a work of devastating magnitude, is seen by many as the pinnacle of the bands aural bombardment.
What Discharge created – unleashed might be a better word – has truly reverberated internationally for four decades, with no signs of abatement. They are still as influential as ever – on all extreme music, not just punk – and such is the primal power they summon forth, once you hear them, you can‘t unhear them. And you are never the same again. ’Protest And Survive – The Anthology‘ marks their gloriously irreverent legacy and is crammed full of their most revered tracks, alongside a slew of rare and unreleased music. Finally, a collection that truly does this inspiring band justice. And long may the nightmare continue.