When Crass first spawned the anarcho-punk movement in the ‘70s, I doubt anyone had any idea how far-reaching their ideology would reach into punk music. In their wake, Amebix were one of the first to take their ideology, and blend it with their own sound, which owes as much to early metal like Motorhead as it does to Crass’ noise. In many ways, they were the first crust punk band.
The early days of Amebix is comprised of three EPs, spanning 1982-1984, and recorded on Spiderleg Records, a label run by Flux of Pink Indians, another band spawned by Crass (who in fact started on the Crass Records label). These three EPs - No Sanctuary, Who’s The Enemy and Winter - were run in limited runs, becoming very rare before being repeatedly bootlegged on lower-quality releases over the years. As such, they became legendary.
Now, the three EPs are once again seeing the light of day, having been remastered by Jello Biafra and released on Alternative Tentacles as No Sanctuary – The Spiderleg Recordings. Once again, the label has done us all a public service.
The album’s status as a historical and cultural record aside, it’s a really powerful and dark piece of music. Hearing remastered recordings of these seminal works of crust punk reveals how innovative and influential this band would become. Simply by espousing Crass’ anarchist beliefs and marrying them up with metal influences like Black Sabbath and a large amount of early Killing Joke, Amebix has come up with albums that are the aural equivalent of being punched in the gut repeatedly – but very, veeeeery slowly.
The band isn’t averse to speeding things up; classic punk tunes like “No Gods No Masters” (Listen/Download) drive forward at a frenzied pace, but Amebix was always at their best at their heaviest, sludgiest and weirdest. “Belief” is a crusty freight train that has been sitting at the bottom of a lake, until the night it decided to tear of the rust and slowly roll out and take out a neighborhood (Listen/Download), and “The Church Is For Sinners” (Listen/Download) and “Control” (Listen/Download) are just drudgy with an infectious tribal beat underneath that, like old Killing Joke, might be hookier than the band ever anticipated.
There are albums that one should own because they’re historically and influentially significant, and albums one should own simply because they’re good. With this Alternative Tentacles remaster, the label has released a record that touches both sides. It’s dark and heavy, and very indicative of all of the bands – good and bad – that the Amebix would influence into existence.
If you are at all a fan of contemporary crust punk and you’d like to learn more about where it came from, you really have two choices: you can either go to your local library and look up a book that probably doesn’t exist, or you can pick up No Sanctuary – The Spiderleg Recordings.
I think you already know which choice is the most proper.
Release Date: May 6, 2008