Subhumans - The Day The Country Died
Earsplit is re-releasing a slew of remastered Subhumans records, too many to review at once since it is a lot to handle in one sitting. However, if you are to sit through seven CDs worth of old school British, punk, you could not do better than Subhumans. Their sharp snotty eyes shot darts at everytyhing from the church to the government, to idiots who make daily life hell and other assorted punk topics. Their sense of humor and willingness to stretch out beyond hardcore constraints, especially guitarist.... And drummer, help their music to hold up really well today.
I'll focus on "The Day The Country Died," since it was their first record and in many ways their best (though they had a knack for putting a lot of their best songs on EP's). Originally released in 1983 on Spiderleg, "Day," like just about every hardcore record, is fixated on hypocrisy, impotence in the face of corporate greed, and overall rage that is yet to find a target/outlet. This set also uses Orwell's "!984" as a looming metaphor for disaster. Despite the fact that we now know of course that '84 turned out to be just another shitty Reagan morning, (though it was a great year for hardcore), the power and edginess of the sense of doom has not diminished. "Ashtray Dirt," "Dying World," "I Don't Wanna Die" are the representative tracks, delivered with snotty Britishness by Dick Lucas, and driven home by the often impossible time-keeping of their legendary drummer, Trotsky. "Mickey Mouse Is Dead" and "Zyklon-B-Movie" are the kind of morbidly comic, "ain't horror a blast?" sort of tunes that old school hardcore excelled at, and in which it was always hard to tell if they were born of nihilism or coping mechanism.
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