Extreme Noise Terror

A Holocaust in Your Head

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Never was a band and its first album both so suitably named as Extreme Noise Terror and its seminal debut full-length, 1989's A Holocaust in Your Head. Simply put, this is one of the key releases of both the crust-punk and grindcore genres, second only to Napalm Death's twin-barreled opening blasts, Scum and From Enslavement to Obliteration, most observers would agree, in redefining British music's known limits of sonic extremity with its remorseless aggression, blinding speed, and none-more-raw recording. And yet, though they are now often lumped into one sentence for convenience's sake, the Ipswich-based ENT differed in many ways from their Birmingham counterparts, primarily for having deeper roots in pure punk rock vs. heavy metal, and for the still rather unique proposition of possessing two distinct vocalists in Dean Jones and Phil Vane. Those punk foundations come to the fore on tracks like "F**ked Up System" and "Innocence to Ignorance," which are essentially hardcore numbers delivered with unprecedented savagery. All the while, the ongoing vocal tag team transforms most every tune into a championship bout, one where both fighters ultimately hit the bloody canvas. And with all due respect to Napalm Death and other grind progenitors, nobody could touch ENT's fearsome benchmark for political vitriol ("Deceived," "Bullshit Propaganda," "Conned Through Life") and global awareness ("Another Nail in the Coffin," "Raping the Earth," the spectacular vegan anthem "Murder"). These strong messages ultimately come in handy whenever the debilitating musical attack threatens to destabilize completely (see "Use Your Mind" and "Take the Strain") and descend into an outright chaos of repetitive riff patterns, invisible bass guitar, and rattling percussion, all of which is still part of the attraction, mind you. In any case, there's no doubt that these powerful statements -- musical and lyrical -- have bestowed enduring relevance upon A Holocaust in Your Head (the closing "If You're Only in it for the Music (S.O.D. Off)" really says it all), where "noise for noise's sake" certainly does not. [Buyer beware: A Holocaust in Your Head was later re-recorded in 1991 for no apparent reason or improvement upon the original; accept no substitutes.]

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