Compilations are a blessing and a curse. At their best, they provide a focal point for an idea or a label, showcase disparate projects’ interpretations of a theme, or capture the zeitgeist of a scene or collective. At their worst, they are disjointed and meandering, and one bad egg can spoil the whole dish. I’m often wary as a result, but didn’t hesitate to pick up a copy of this latest release from the United Kingdom’s Unrest Productions imprint.
Hatred is Nothing Without Action was compiled to commemorate Unrest Productions’ United Forces of Industrial festival in May 2014, with each of the performing units contributing to the tape. I was not at the two-day event myself, but by all accounts, it was a great success and there is palpable buoyancy in the post-event write-ups to warrant that statement. There was a decent turnout at a supportive venue, and the eleven artists all delivered in spades. The event’s success was no doubt largely thanks to Unrest Productions’ founder and Shift‘s front-man, a man with the chutzpah and determination to get things done.
Unrest Productions has been defiant in the face of idol worship in the scene. Martin is clearly determined to bring lesser-known projects to a wider audience, while still tipping his hat to the stalwarts. This is evidenced in a previous compilation, We Gave then the Future and they Wanted the Past, a direct response to an “overload of reissues, reunions [and] former legends”. I suspect he also has little time for the impotent posturing of many an act in the genre, given the title of this tape.
His obvious penchant for dirty synth-driven power electronics gets a good airing here, with seasoned veterans and up-and-comers both stretching their legs. The contributors broadly tread similar territory and so make easy bedfellows, but there is enough diversity and variation to keep things interesting.
Crucial to this is the three tracks from Black Insignia, a project described as an Unrest Productions house band of sorts. Various artists involved in the project at hand — in this case, the United Forces of Industrial weekend — contribute sounds and source material, which is then pulled together for release under the moniker. The name itself is a reference to the Black Insignia military unit to which the protagonist in Milan Kundera’s first novel, The Joke, is dispatched. Deemed unworthy by the State, they are prohibited from bearing arms, forced to work in the mines, and endure pointless marching drills all day. The project’s inclusion on the tape here supports a palpable sense of camaraderie, and the Black Insignia tracks are some of the strongest.
The opener, for example, Black Insignia’s “Your Violence Belongs to the State I”, is fantastic. A sludgy, bass-heavy drone (it could only sound this good on cassette) churns beneath broken, stuttering synth smear, jostling for space with metal clatter and indistinct vocal samples. It’s a great start. A good deal of consideration has been given to the following track progressions, which serves the tape well given its overall count of seventeen submissions.
The urgent synth sequences and aggressive vocals of Am Not’s “Beleaguered and Native” keep things rolling along at a cracking pace, followed by Halthan’s excellent “Collateral Damage”. It treads a well-worn path of military sample abuse, but drowns it in punitive lo-fi synth exploration which is reminiscent of Alfarmania’s post-mortem electronics.
Human Larvae’s “Corrupted Trust” is a highlight, with a deep lurching rhythm pushed to the point of clip, and dominant spiteful vocals high in the mix. Bizarre Uproar, one of the titans of the Finnish scene, offer “Likaiset Aukot”, a piece so raw and filthy you can smell the sweat. Unhinged vocals just barely rise above an ultra lo-fi din and bring about the presence and vitality of a live assault.
Birmingham native Iron Fist of the Sun provides what, for me, is the standout track on the tape with “Accelerated Fever Libido”. His crisp, clinical synth work on previous outings is less prevalent here, with this track somehow dirtier than usual. A slow, insistent, rusty oscillation spirals through the entirety of the track, with Lee Howard’s scornful vocals toying alongside.
There are too many contributions to cover in detail, but with other strong tracks from Sick Seed, S.T.A.B. Electronics, Unclean, Zyklon SS, SSRI, Pogrom, Mollusk King, Umpio and Shift, the lineup alone demands attention. These are clearly artists at the top of their game, making this an essential purchase. As is common with concert releases, however, a short print run (123 copies) means it will escape the clutches of most. Grab it if you can.
A1) Black Insignia – Your Violence Belongs to the State I
A2) Am Not – Beleaguered & Native
A3) Halthan – Collateral Damage
A4) Human Larvae – Corrupted Trust
A5) Sick Seed – Riot
A6) S.T.A.B. Electronics – Toxteth O.S.D.
A7) Unclean – Awake & Arise
A8) Bizarre Uproar – Likaiset Aukot
A9) Black Insignia – Your Violence Belongs to the State II
B1) Zyklon SS – No One Likes us
B2) SSRI – Boredom and Violence
B3) Pogrom – Untitled
B4) Mollusk King – O’brien
B5) Umpio – Reel #1: Autism at Work
B6) Iron Fist of the Sun – Accelerated Fever Libido
B7) Shift – A Prisoner’s Oath
B8) Black Insignia – Your Violence Belongs to the State III