Crust Punk is a style of music that combines Hardcore Punk with Extreme Metal. The style originated in England during the mid-80’s and uses dark and pessimistic lyrics within it’s style of music. Crust is mainly known for having quite a dirty and bassy sound and is quite often played at quite a quick tempo with quite fast riffs, but some bands within the genre can restrict themselves to having a crawling and often sludgy pace. The musical style also sounds like it has been stripped down. Drumming is generally done at a fast beat also. The tracks tend to be quite socio-political in terms of lyrics and focuses on nuclear war, military, animal rights, police and anti-fascism more often than not.
Crust Punk’s origins can be linked to anarcho-punk with groups such as Crass combined with D-Beat which is used by bands such as Discharge.Early bands often cite Post-Punk with bands such as Killing Joke and proto-metal with bands such as Motorhead bringing a great sense of influence to the Crust Punk sound.
The term Crust Punk can be cited to Hellbastard who first used the term on their demo Rippper Crust (1986). Although many fans believe that the genre existed even before this period with groups such as Amebix and Antisect releasing music before this point. What is interesting to note however, is that within Crust Punk the message hasn’t changed much since the rise of these early bands and from it, a sense of easy recognition from the genre can be obtained.
Certain other bands combined during this period including; Doom, Electro Hippies and Extreme Noise Terror. From these bands further subgenres of Punk developed. Doom and Extreme Noise Terror are often credited with bringing Grindcore to the forefront. Deviated Instinct from this period brought around the sound of “stenchcore” bringing the look and sound of dirty and metallic music together in one tight package.
American Crust Punk also came to New York in the mid-80’s with works of bands such as Nausea. The group combined the Lower East Side Squat Scene alongside New York Hardcore, the group also lived with, inspired and took inspiration from Roger Miret lead vocalist of Hardcore Punk group Agnostic Front. Another big band taking the sound of Crust Punk particularly from groups such as Amebix were Neurosis, who arguably inaugurated Crust Punk on the West Coast. Disrupt, Antischism, MISERY and Destroy are all considered influential Crust Punk groups from the 1980’s.
Crust Punk expanded in the American scenes from the record label Profane Existence. This originally started as a zine from Minneapolis. The label distributed in Crust Punk, Hardcore and Anarcho-Punk, as well as going into categories such as; Stoner Metal, Doom Metal, Sludge Metal and Black Metal. The magazine and label were originally opened in 1989 and pushed a lot of Punk to the forefront during the 90’s even having it’s own slogan “Making Punk A Threat Again!”. Sadly the magazine closed in 2013 but during the 90’s it acted as an underground juggernaut.
The ethos of Crust Punk also became more widely stated during the 90’s with the bands writing lyrics that focused on topics such as; vegetarianism, feminism and straight edge ways of living. One of the biggest bands during this period for Crust Punk was Aus Rotten, who’s classic albums such as The System Worked For Them (1996) and The Rotten Agenda (2001) have now become classics within the Crust Punk genre.
Powerviolence is another genre that gained importance and closeness to the Crust Punk scene. This genre was connected to Slap-A-Ham Records, with bands such as Man Is The Bastard and Dropdead. Crust Punk was also extremely popular in the American South with Prank Records and CrimethInc pushing a lot of the newer Crust Punk bands forward, most noticeably is the band His Hero Is Gone. Sweden also had a huge Crust Punk scene during this period which more than often, connected to the Scandinavian Death Metal scene. Groups such as Driller Killer and Wolfbrigade pushed the genre extremely prominently.
Crust Punk has continued to be pushed into the 2000’s to now with new bands like Iskra and Tragedy giving great pushes to the genre. There’s also a scene which has emerged in A Coruna Spain, with bands such as Black Panda, Ekkaia and Madame German leading the charge. In conclusion no matter how small the genre might become there will always be bands somewhere wanting to push the style of music forwards.
Crust Punk has also famously been linked to other genres in it’s existence, these will be listed below
Industrial – Amebix being one of the most prominent bands in the genre and being influenced by Killing Joke will always put a link to the style within their music. Nausea are also another famous example of a Crust Punk band incorporating Industrial within their sound.
Grindcore – Crust is arguably the forefathers of Grindcore bringing a great sense of inspiration to the genre of music. The first wave of Grindcore linked to bands like Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror and Doom can be seen from Crust Punk. The style is generally called “Crust/Grind”.
Thrashcore and Powerviolence – Thrashcore and Powerviolence are two offshoots of Extreme Punk that originated from Crust Punk. Their differences are too extreme to really list here but both genres use a fast tempo, and blast beats. An example of a band is Man Is The Bastard
Black Metal – Crust Punk legends Amebix were influenced by the first wave of Black Metal bands specifically Venom and Hellhammer/Celtic Frost. Bathory was also influenced by Crust Punk just as much as they were from early Black Metal. Crust Punk also took elements from second wave of Black Metal Iskra are a main example of a band influenced from the second wave of Black Metal, creating the phrase “Blackened Crust” to describe their style. Gallhammer are another band to blend Crust Punk with Black Metal, as well as Fukpig who combine Grindcore, Crust Punk and Black Metal into their sound. Black Metal legends Dark Throne have incorporated elements of Crust Punk on their newer releases showing that the genre influences even the most legendary of bands. This can be seen from The Cult Is Alive (2006) onwards.
In conclusion Crust Punk whilst not being the biggest genre in Punk, has had it’s fair share of influences. With inspiring genres like Grindcore and Black Metal, this is a genre that can be seen lasting within events. With inspiring many bands at events like Damnation Festival and Obscene Extreme Festival this is a genre that will be felt for a long time within extreme music.