Review of Omega Tribe's No Love Lost (Corpus Cristi) and Hüsker
Metal Circus (SST). [Transcribed by Zvia Admon.]
Some Boys Du
By Mat Snow
"People talk about anarchy / and taking up a fight / Well I'm afraid of
hings like that / I lock my doors at night" ('Real World' by Hüsker
Omega Tribe talk about anarchy - or at least an ideal of peace and freedom on earth desecrated by Them, the System, Man. Yet frustration breaks in their voices because they know that the world is unjust, unfree, greedy, self-destructive - and probably unchangeable. No one's betting on survival, but at least protest and stand a chance.
And Omega Tribe say it with flowers. Amidst the para-Crass barbed wire of brutal despair, some songs are beginning to bloom. For instance, 'Pictures' intros with pastoral Jam before meshing into Buzzcocks metal edginess: 'Duty Calls' echoes the angry singalonga first Clash LP.
It's all rather hesitant: melodies are only half-fulfilled, dynamic punches are pulled. Further sign that OT are still defining themselves is the standard sub-Cockney range of vocal impressions: Strummer, Weller, Jaz, Libertine/Ignorant/De Vivre are all mimicked, as if Omega Tribe don't think their own voices can carry authority. And closer listening to 'The Clash' would teach OT that one vivid phrase triggers more thought than a volume of generalised tract-speak. A weedy vinyl sound doesn't help.
Which is where Hüsker Dü score. Spot of Black Flag fame engineered and co-produced 'Metal Circus', a mini-LP which recalls the pressurised sonic intensity of BF's 'Damaged' and matches Ric Ocasek's more clean-cut efforts on Bad Brains' 'Rock For Light'.
Hüsker Dü (Swedish for "do you remember?") hail from Minneapolis, curiously more exciting to contemplate than Omega Tribe's New Barnet, which , as Barney Hoskyns recently observed, is a bad reason for US hardcore attracting more punk-snob attention over here than the homegrown equivalent. A better reason, as Hüsker Dü exemplify, is that the best American punk is harder, funnier, more adventurous and less parochial than the UK's '77 updates.
Befitting their four years as a group, Hüsker Dü have refined their art to a T. Bob Mould's guitar flails in savage skirls; Gregg [sic] Norton and Grant Hart (bass, drums) bump and grind with such inventive power as to show up most of our UK punkateers as clod-hopping K[illing] Joke copyists.
Rarely has singing sounded so at tether's end - 'Inflammable Material' Jake Burns is only half way there. Nor I doubt will you hear a more chilling, intense and disturbing song as the psychologue 'Diane'. Hüsker Dü play with personas and tease with ambiguities. Indeed, they might well go along with Omega Tribe's invective but they'd never put it so windily themselves.
And there lies the big difference. Omega Tribe may possibly hone themselves to a gleaming, razor-sharp future; Hüsker Dü kick out the jams now.
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