Friday, July 1, 2011

Get Into: Ork Bastards

Ork Bastards are basically a perfect band. They come from Russia, and they play some kind of sick dystopian metalpunk that doesn't quite fit into any established scene. While a lot of the individual riffs sound like the work of a lobotomized Destruction, these guys aren't really thrash metal in any meaningful sense of the word. Their songs are too minimal and vicious. Like All Pigs Must Die, Ork Bastards listen really carefully to Discharge without attempting to replicate the Discharge sound. That influence is evident in the general contours of the riffs, in their overall arrangement, and in the pounding punk drumming. Ork Bastards aren't simply reducible to their songwriting, though. Listen to the palm mutes in "Cold Ruined Stones." While the sound is raw as all fuck, the guitarist's picking is crisp and precise, coursing with aggression.There's something about the way Ork Bastards play their instruments that lends the music an intense physicality. It doesn't just make me want to punch someone, it makes me want to hurl myself into furniture and walls.


  1. Interested to hear more from these guys. Remind me a bit of the more "Burning Spirits" type hardcore played by several Tokyo bands a while back. Pavel, are you familiar with Death Side, Ghoul, Poison (later "Poison Arts")? They all synthesize deep metal vocabulary and song structure into a more streamlined hardcore attack.

    Guitarist Chelsea had a lot to do with their sound. He started out in Poison, later committing full time to Death Side. Absolutely blistering solos, breakneck riffs that had real structure and character, and intense speed. His playing really fused hardcore punk and metal, creating a distinct sound. Totally ass kicking stuff.

  2. Definitely check 'em out! I recommend the split with Meti Bhuvah. M.B. totally blows (basically "Russian Bone Awl") but its worth it for the Bastards tracks alone.

    And thanks for the recommendations! Of those I've only heard of Death Side. Checked em out and wasn't so into it, but I must've been listening to the wrong song. From your description, these bands sound like exactly my kind of thing. Would you do me the huge favor of listing some "Burning Spirits" albums to DL? I'm excited to check this shit out...

  3. Although GHOUL doesn't usually get lumped into the Death Side-related "Burning Spirits" category, they incorporate a lot of metal sounds and tempos into their stripped down hardcore. You can get the discography CD at my blog.

    I would recommend giving DEATH SIDE's full lps "Wasted Dream" and "Bet on the Possibility" another good listen before rendering a verdict. POISON (later changed to POISON ARTS when some shitty hair band threatened to sue, even though the Tokyo band had gone by the 'Poison' name for years) have several great EPs and also the awesome "Kick Rock" LP. All of the above feature guitar by Chealse. is an awesome blog for Japanese hardcore, all the rips are right from vinyl, too. also has some good stuff, too.

    CROW is another awesome Japanese hardcore band that has been around forever. Their early works are pure filthy anarchist punk, with metal flourishes coming in their later recordings. The "Who Killed Dove?" 7-inch and "Last Chaos" LP are classics of their early work. Their later, more metal, releases are a little uneven, although the "Bloody Tear" LP is fucking awesome. Let me know if you have any trouble locating any of those.

    Also, have you ever listened to GASTUNK? As far as I'm concerned, they are THE metal band of the Japanese underground. Although they kind of imploded at the end of their career, their early singles and first two LPs are complete and total classics of gorgeous, challenging metal just soaked in wonky punk experimentation. Let me know if you haven't heard the early singles or at least the "Dead Song" LP. I can't recommend those highly enough.

    Finally, you've listened to G.I.S.M., right? They are the most nihilistic, horribly sociopathic bastards to craw out of the early '80s hardcore scene in Tokyo. So punk it hurst, but original guitarist Randy Uchida constantly utilizes N.W.O.B.H.M.-style dual-leads on their early work. Listen to the "Detestation" 10-inch immediately if you haven't already. Cosmic Hearse has a nice German bootleg of their comp tracks, which is also a good place to start.

    And then their is ZOUO. They probably wanted to sound more like an accomplished speed metal band, but just couldn't play well enough. The result is fucking amazing. Listen to "The Last Agony" immediately.

    Seminal compilations of the "thrash" scene in Japan during the mid to late '80s, early '90s are: "Hardcore Unlawful Assembly," "In The Eye of the Thrash Guerrilla," "A Farewell To Arms," "Game of Death", "My Meat is Your Poison." Those are all good jumping off spots.

  4. I liked this, but not as much as Syphilitic Vaginas I discovered though the YouTube link

    has been the soundtrack to my weekend

    And yes, probably an nth generation copy of the stuff Ido is recommending above... Time, finally, to Get Into G.I.S.M.

  5. Ido, thank you for this amazing jcore primer. I've heard some of these bands, but have never dug deep into it. GISM is great of course, and I've heard some Crow and Zouo but wasn't so into either of them. I youtubed some Ghoul and DAMN those dudes fucking slay! Gastunk also seems really cool, almost a deathrock vibe which is awesome. Will check out all these bands. I'm definitely destined for some serious thrashing in the next couple days.

    I'm a big fan of Kuro, who I will probably write up on here soon. Also, have you ever heard of the Italian noisecore/dbeat band Underage? I'll be reviewing them on Friday, seems right up your alley.

  6. @steve57: Gotta love them syphilitic vaginas! That particular song is like some kind of satanic hair metal, and I mean that as a high compliment. Ever heard their track "Black Sorcery?" That's probably my fave.

  7. [due to the length, I'm breaking this up into two posts. Yes, I really like GASTUNK.]

    白(KURO)are pretty fucking awesome. [Their full band name actually means "Black (White)," with the first Chinese character read as "shiro"→"white." They were from Kyushu, the south-western most of the four main islands, which was also the home base for CONFUSE and GAI. While CONFUSE and GAI get credited with starting the whole "noise-core" division on Japanese hardcore, 白(KURO)were influenced by Motorhead more than anything else.

    Here are two youtube channels that feature some of the bands I mentioned above-

    1) Nice live footage of DEATH SIDE, OUTO, GHOUL, and THE EXECUTE. GHOUL definitely incorporate more a lot of metal riffs and energy in their music. Lead singer Masami was also in several other bands, but died extremely young. They were exceptionally fucking vicious and I really feel like they should get more ink (cyber or otherwise) than they do. THE EXECUTE were based in Tokyo and were big early players in that scene along with G.I.S.M., THE COMES, and of course the saintly THE STALIN. THE EXECUTE took cues from Motorhead as well, and started out as really straight forward hardcore punk. They then started shifting into more complex arrangements, which was followed by bassist/songwriter Baby and singer Baki leaving to focus full-time on GASTUNK. They released a few more 7-inches and then a so-so LP, but weren't as good without those two.

  8. [part IIa]

    2) Stunning live performances of GASTUNK in their prime. This band was originally a side project of THE EXECUTE's bassist Baby, who wanted to do something beyond the limits of hardcore punk. He made GASTUNK his full-time project around '85 or so, bringing band mate Baki with him. They recruited members from other Tokyo hardcore outfits: guitarist Tatsu from DEAD COPS and drummer Matsumura from THE COMES (the best fucking punk band in fucking ever, to me at least. Matsumura would be replaced around '86 or '87 by Pazz). You're right with the deathrock vibe- one old interview I read stated that CHRISTIAN DEATH (1.0 and 2.0, with Rozz) were a touchpoint, only they wanted to do that kind of music in a "metal way." Baki's singing style really developed from his days as a twitchy teen in THE EXECUTE, especially on some of the early singles and the "Under the Sun" LP he really flexes his vocal range. Tatsu morphed into a goddamn wizard on guitar. I'm personally biased because I love this band so much, but his playing is some of the best you will hear, creatively and technically. I think Baby still did a majority of my songwriting and musical arrangement, at least on all the '85-'87 releases (TONS of stuff recorded and released in very short period of time). His songwriting is just.... somehow.... DIFFERENT than most metal (and definitely punk). When you hear one of his bass lines, you know right away that it's him. No better example the entirety of "Computer Crime" to sum them up:

    Even though they had a more-or-less mainstream distribution deal, they took control over their "image", which was and still is pretty unheard of for Japanese bands who get covered by the straight media/entertainment business. The focus was definitely on the music and the fans, rather than playing dress-up (which is pretty much the only focus of all those shitty "visual-kei" bands who look like cartoons.) Sadly though, things started to come apart on the "Midnight Rain" EP, and '88s "Mother" LP just isn't that good. A lot of the unique flavor was gone, and the utterly wonky brilliance of the music was way too accessible. For my tastes at least. By '89 they had split, with Baki and Tatsu going on to form the rather banal hard rock act JACKS 'N JOKERS. I'm not sure exactly what caused the break-up (Japanese language sources are conflicting), but my personal opinion is that Baki and Tatsu wanted to go a more commercial route, while Baby wanted none of that. Tatsu's struggle with substance abuse may have been another factor. But those details are pretty vague (i.e. have been covered-up to avoid embarrassing Tatsu and his family.) They've played a handful of reunion shows over the past few years, and released a new EP last year. A friend of mine who saw them play a few years ago said they are still fun live, but Tatsu guitar player has really degraded. In his prime, he and Baki were one of the greatest guitar and bass combos in the world- "HUSK":

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  10. [part IIb]

    Even though they definitely occupied the musical cosmology of metal, its been punk bands who have drawn the most influence from them, as far as compositional structure and aesthetics are concerned. Tons of punk and metal bands currently active all over Japan cite GASTUNK as their main reason for starting groups of their own.

    Essential discography:

    "GASTUNK" (1985)
    "Mr. GAZIME" (1985)
    "GERONIMO" (1986)
    "TO FANS" (1986)

    "DEAD SONG" (1985)
    "UNDER THE SUN" (1987)

    Make SURE you get the original Japanese release of "Under The Sun" and NOT the version released by Pushead. The original mix is better (to me) and the songs are in their intended order (which flows so much nicer.)