Thursday, November 5, 2015

Aspects Of War

When I was nine years old, I visited Turkey. On the last night of my trip, the anxiety from waiting to leave for the airport kept me awake all night. As I sat on the balcony of my family's sixth floor flat, I suddenly heard a commotion about six blocks away. It started out as screaming in what I knew was Turkish and then in another language (what I'd later learn was Kurdish). That's when the shooting started. I can't tell you how long this went on for exactly. By my count it went on until the first explosion. From where I was sitting I don't know who started shooting explosives, but I knew they were mortars from the cupping sound made by the shots (the same noise you hear when fireworks are shot on the 4th of July). By morning, the fighting was over. On our walk to the bus to take us to the airport, my mom, brother, and I walked passed the block where the fighting was. Multiple storefronts were charred and blown out from the explosions. There were stains on the concrete where bodies had clearly been laying. The last sight I saw was a dog pile of human corpses that the Turkish soldiers were throwing bodies on.

All the things you've heard about from "Dis-" bands over the years were right there in front of me. Call it Visions of War or A Brutal Sight of War or any other reference point, there's something to be said for seeing it. This warzone is what d-beat bands have been trying to make you hear. To put it simply: their goal is to make music that properly articulate war. Those who have seen war don't score it to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

The feelings of watching that firefight at a young age left me wondering if it was going to continue to escalate. I was nervous but also excited to see something like that happening so close to me. I can't say I was afraid. I knew I was safe from my position. At the same time, to see the flashes and even feel the heat rise in the air was something I've failed to put into words for twenty years.

I tell you this story because the first time I saw Boston's Aspects of War, it immediately called me back to that night in Istanbul. From the moment they started playing in the Acheron with the strings section rolling noise out of the band's wall of amps like a minigun along with the drummer attacking his kit (immediately reminding me of Framtid's Shin) I got that same feeling of anxiety I did in Turkey. I felt the heat rising in the air. This doesn't sound like anything at a punk show but the amp wall coupled with the layout of the Acheron caused all dead air to just be pushed back to the venue. The only thing in the front of the room was noise and carbon dioxide. Between the instrumentalists creating a wall of noise to assail the audience, the vocalist did not want to be left out swinging on the audience members. So you had a live show where the noise was both choking you out and physically pressing you along with a vocalist who was liable to catch you with a right hand.

There's something ironic about a punk band sounding 'oppressive' but the sound of Aspects is so enveloping that it has the power to pin you down until the set is over (much like someone under fire or being shelled). Capturing the sounds of war was something Disfear, Discharge, and much of d-beat's first generation did. D-beat's second generation wanted to create war through their music. Bands like Disclose, Zyanose, D-Clone, and in the USA with Perdition, Zatuson, Nerveskade (which featured AOW guitarist Jakke Sullivan), and now Aspects of War. Noise Not Music has evolved from a mantra into a battlecry. Aspects of War is the closest thing the USA will ever have to the likes of a Disclose (a fact that band may be conscious of as they frequently pay homage to Kawakami in their sets). This is also a fact the Japanese may be conscious of as the band recently did a three week Japanese tour on the Toyota Punk Carnival with System Fucker and a slew of other bands while being the only gaijin band (a huge honor).

Aspects of War's New York's Alright set left me with a few takeaways: 1.) drummer Chris Peeples hits his kit harder than almost any other North American 2.) the band's imposing backline (emblazoned with Discharge's iconography) assembled into a wall formation is a piece of sonic artillery and you will see nothing else like it in North American punk right now 3.) I've been partially deaf in my left ear since. Since then it's become clear that they're part of a new crop of bands that are helping to evolve the sound. The Nightmare Continues became Dis Nightmare Still Continues became Dis Nightmare Forever Continues. Aspects of War is just as much about looking to the future as it is looking to the past.

Included is the band's split with Contrast Attitude, Hell Never Ceases EP, Total Disfuckers Demo, In Order To Satisfy... EP, The Presence of Death EP, and a New York's Alright 2015 set.

1 comment:

  1. I went to high school with Jake, we actually played in a power violence band together with him on vocals. Glad he hasn't stopped making noise.