Discharge. Now, there’s a name one cannot really ignore. The band that single-handedly changed the face of the extreme end of the music spectrum. Let it be Hardcore, Grindcore, Thrash, or Death Metal, there’s a remnant of Discharge involved, lurking in there. Black and white imaginary, studded leather jackets, lyrics about the horrors of war, corruption and an anti-authoritarian mindset were all coming together in their early releases. They set the standard for many to follow. Yet, like with all the classics it was their music that did the biggest part of the talking, not the stylistics of their promo pics. Discharge pretty much defined the use of D-beat (yes, a drum beat named after the band) on their ferocious riff attacks, with songs often lasting less than two minutes. When you have heard Discharge once, it is impossible to unhear them again. Even today. As there has been so much written about them in the past 40 years, I will focus on this killer compilation at hand, rather than repeat everything on how they ended up being covered by Metallica, Nasum, Anthrax, Carpathian Forest and Machine Head instead. Feel free to google up that bit, if you like.
So, what we have in our hands here is shitloads of Crusty Hardcore and more. This is the genesis of the direction. The big bang, from which everything else followed. The best 53 songs, as someone humorously commented about the recent comp. Wrapped in two CD’s, you can find everything you could possibly need from Discharge. The classics from their “Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing era” – the raw, metallic bursts that at the time in 1982 were harder than anything out there. Like Motörhead on even more speed than usual, making Venom sound like funny satanic comedy, Discharge were THE most extreme band in the world. In 1982 they opened the doors for Thrash Metal and Grindcore to enter the fight. The album is naturally represented here with enough shout-alongs to keep fans, new and old, happy. “The Blood Runs Red”, “The Nightmare Continues”, “A Hell on Earth”, and yeah… “Protest and Survive”, naturally. There’s also material from the first crucial mini-releases the band did before their debut album, like “Fight Back” and “A Look at Tomorrow”, the essentials. Everything in the first CD serves the concept of a typical compilation, scanning through material from various albums, also including the late 1980’s/early 1990’s more Heavy Metal oriented tunes, which end up being the only remotely weaker numbers on the comp.
The second CD comes with more surprises. Positive ones. There’s the re-recorded versions of Discharge classics with their singer at-the-time, Anthony ‘Rat’ Martin, some never before released demos of the material that ended up on their albums and live-tracks. All of them faithful to the main concept and none of them leaning as much away from their core sound as their Heavy Metal tracks did on CD #1. Still, the ultimate treasure of the second CD would be the 1977 demo, that is a solid document of their humble beginnings before Motörhead and the invention of the D-beat happened. The obvious Sex Pistols influence is easily audible, but the songs have an authentic teenage frustration captured in them. Hearing this part of their career is certainly interesting. Then there is the more experimental, later Discharge material. Namely wonderful, Ministry-esque remixes of “Accesories by Molotov” and “Corpse of Decadence” and extended versions of “Ignorance” and “The More I See”. Both clocking an epic three minutes or so. These additions are actually the ones that make the whole compilation what it is: A impressive documentary of all ends of Discharge’s evolution.
Even though this may seem like a HUGE amount of Crust Punk to swim in, “Protest and Survive” is actually quite easy to digest. It paints a thorough picture of a band faithful to it’s style and is steady in delivery. None of the tracks included here are weak. There’s no need for skipping any of these tunes at all. 50 or so bursts sets your mind in ‘Discharge-mode’ and I at least can spend hours and hours there. To cut the chase, “Protest and Survive” is the most enjoyable way to showcase the band in their entirety. It does not matter if you are a fan of decades, or completely new to them. Old fans will enjoy the non-chronological, carefully planned track list that runs through with ease, and if you have managed to miss Discharge for some no-brainer of a reason, this is simply the easiest way for you to find out what the band was and is about. After all, this is essential stuff for every music fan. A bit outdated maybe (In “You Deserve Me” they are selling a VCR unit, for example. How many of kids actually can remember what that was all about?), but still loaded with unmatched potential.
The fact that the songs have been remastered might be an issue for purists, but for me personally it does not matter a bit. I have my vinyls and I can stage dive from the basement couch with them as many times I want to and in a time of my own choosing. The remastering makes these CD’s simply more enjoyable a listen as the sound and volume are in equal levels. Simple as that. I don’t know about you, but what I’m going to do, is to spin this monster in my car until my better half starts to protest. And then, try to survive.
Rating – 4.5/5