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Polka Slam / Crisis Point

Bolt Thrower / Instigators / Culture Shock / H.D.Q

Four different faces of punk rock - 58%

robotiq, June 12th, 2022

This is something you won't see every day, a four-way split that covers four different music genres (broadly speaking, ska, rock, hardcore punk and death metal). Each band presents one song, and the whole record fits on a seven-inch. I believe that this release originally arose through a collaboration between two UK punk zines (Polka Slam and Crisispoint). The four bands featured were all 'punk' in the broadest sense of the term. I don't tend to think of labels like 'punk' and 'hardcore' as referring to a style of music. It refers to a scene, vibe and attitude. Hence, ska and death metal can fit on the same seven-inch without it seeming odd. All four of these bands were punks at heart.

The main reason anyone will hear this record is for the Bolt Thrower track ("Drowned in Torment"). This recording, like all four songs here, is exclusive to this seven-inch. The band would later re-record this track for "Realm of Chaos" and for the second Peel session. This version is different to both. It must have been one of the first recordings to feature the classic line-up of the band (including Jo Bench and Karl Willetts). The song itself is a killer piece of old school death metal, with slightly more melodic soloing than other Bolt Thrower songs from the period. This version is slower, murkier and more D.I.Y. sounding than the album version, which is in keeping with the band's crusty (punk) origins. I can imagine punks who listened to bands like Axegrinder and Deviated Instinct liking this song when they bought the zine.

The other three bands will likely be unknown to metal audiences. Culture Shock serves some UK punk with a ska beat. Presumably they had been influenced by earlier bands like The Clash who sometimes flirted with ska and reggae. Their song ("Upside Down") has a catchy chorus and some clever lyrics. It is good, definitely worth a listen. The HDQ song ("Looking Back") has a more intricate, almost NWOBHM-ish feel, albeit filtered through melodic punk. This one isn't bad either, and it ends with an energetic solo. The remaining track by The Instigators ("Disorder by Design") sits on the bridge between classic rock and hardcore punk. I can hear echoes of Black Sabbath and Diamond Head in there. This might be a coincidence, but it is worth remembering that this band once featured Paul 'Hammy' Halmshaw (founder of Peaceville) in their line-up, so maybe not.

This record is little more than a snack but I like all four songs (the Bolt Thrower and Culture Shock contributions especially). The fact that these songs appear nowhere else (to my knowledge) provides added value. The musical differences between the bands makes for an intriguing listen, although I hear the punk 'vibe' throughout. This seven-inch would have been an excellent addition to the D.I.Y. fanzine at the time. I wonder if it encouraged any zine readers to check out different styles of music, outside of their usual punk listening habits. I hope so. It could work for metalheads too.