Crutches, an absolutely pummeling D-beat unit out of Sweden, are certainly deserving of their moniker. It's an apt name for a group whose mangel (raw Swedish hXc) punk attack is bludgeoning enough to leave you bloodied, beaten, and reliant on the aforementioned standard issue hospital supplies to remain upright.
I first came across their exemplary take on Scandi dis-beat on the amazing Dis is Marmo comp released in 2018 by Sweden's Not Enough Records. Their virulent strain of crust punk sees them eschewing the grandiosity of the loathsome "stadium crust" tag in favor of brevity and immediacy, making the assault all the more dizzying with running times oftentimes shy of 90 seconds. They have an impending split entitled Chaos Riders // Freedom Fighters set to drop on Feb. 14 with Kontrasosial, a band from Indonesia. It's co-released courtesy of the hard work of labels galore, the likes of which read like a crust co-op (Not Enough Records, Up the Punx, Profane Existence, Disaster Records, Distro-y, Breeding for Extinction, Phobia Records, Mundo En Kaos, Rawmantic Disaster Records...).
Crutches are continuing the aural antics of their absolutely essential 2017 full-length, Sald. Fresh of off shows together in both Java and Bali, the like-minded mobs are perfect bedfellows, whose Valentine's Day candy hearts are more likely to be littered with ACAB and anti-fascist sloganeering than trite cribbed love notes.
Stylistically, Crutches do Scandinavian hardcore with the seemingly always present Japanese influence. As they're now in the back half of a decade as a recording act, they've streamlined and perfected their firebrand take on the classic Dis sound, echoing the straightforward charge of Disclose or Framtid, as well as more contemporary Swedes such as Dystopisk Utsikt, Ursut, Paranoid, or Eskatologia. Again, the epic soundscapes of your heavy hitters like Tragedy, Remains of the Day, or From Ashes Rise are still here, albeit condensed into a third of the time. The table-setting still manages to be apocalytpic, as capable of conjuring scorched-Earth hallucinations as it is rallying cries of the disenfranchised.
Crutches' side of the split is a blur of blown-out downhill punk that clearly knows it's way around a hook. The lead guitar is a swirl of discordant squealing solos, matching the ferocious vocals to great effect. The rhythm section is top notch, forging their D-beat anvil in fires eternal. As easily as they can engage a menacing, mid-paced gallop; they're far more likely to unleash a rabid stampede, complete with their hoof (bootprint) forever stamped across your face. Pummel. Repeat.
The split is, ultimately a masterclass in contemporary D-beat. Highpoints include the Motörhead/Inepsy low-end worship vibes on "Hoppa Av" and the sinister opener "The Era of Multi Shit." For me, though, "LIARS" finds the true sweet spot for what Crutches are able to do. Informed by their self-described "dark times" surrounding the 2018 Fall elections in Sweden, it finds them readily skewering the hypocrites comprising the Church and State. Andreas sounds downright horrifying here, their violent shriek and guttural "blehs" nightmarish, painting Crutches as a circling shark, dissatisfied with chum and in search of something more substantial to gnash.
Sonically, their "short, controlled bursts" of manic bellow and screeching vocals fully flesh out an already impossibly thick and pounding take on crust. Stretching into the 2-minute mark, a relative rarity in their dynamite discog, they're better able to bookend their frenzied, four to the floor impulses. While still maintaining their compulsion to remain in light speed mode, the tom-heavy moments add a pounding devastation that, when doubled with a backing vocal track of "LIARS! LIARS!" is undeniable. It's the moment that their traditional but disparate talents truly coalesce into a track that transcends genre and could likely appeal to all corners of extreme music fandom.
As "LIARS" end approaches, the dip in tempo signals not the closing but a rebuilding... it recalls the medical meaning of crutches themselves. The wood in question, however, is reclaimed from the world's crucifixes, as if Crutches would gladly something utilitarian be made from their worthless wood. Apparently, 2019 is still firmly in the age of hot takes. Crutches are the best fucking D-beat band on the planet.
Head to the Crutches Bandcamp page to find out about the various labels issuing the split.
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