Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Review: Atheist Rap / Fear Of Dog / Fluorel Tačkaš / Kapetan Leshi – Novi Sad Hardcore Punk in the 80’s

Label: 5A Pro / Udruženje Pogon Kulture Novi Sad / Crni Ovan

Date: May 4th, 2022

Talking about music history is a dreadfully difficult task. Even if you simplify it, with an encyclopedic approach, to mere name-dropping. Even if you narrow it down to one particular genre in one particular city. And Novi Sad is not a very big city. However, big or small, it’s got a whole lot of history. Especially punk history, as the city is even nowadays among the most active (if not the most active indeed) ones in the country.

Hence, the first in what’s announced as a series of vinyl collections containing early recordings by the local punk bands. Thirty three rounds per minute, drop the needle and stroll down the memory lane. At least for those who were there. For the rest of us, we’re about to be taught a lesson.

First of all, this LP contains demos recorded in 1988 or 1990. Right before the whole country exploded into likely the most stupid of wars ever fought on this planet, and others as well. Boiling pot of idiocy is a fertile ground for punk, as it always was.

Another important note is that there was no re-mastering, re-recording, editing… Everything you can find on this piece of black plastic is the same as it was three decades ago. Rough, unpolished, raw… Simply, from the heart instead of cold sterility.

The record includes liner notes from the instigator of the release (and one of the masterminds of Novi Sad punk scene for the past decades), Igor Todorović, as well as from each band individually. A short biography and history behind each recording are making this release a treasure trove for punk archeologists.

Side A is opened with the only band out of the four that still exists to this day. Atheist Rap is a well-established name with a massive following. At least in former Yugoslavia. I would imagine they could’ve been much more influential abroad have they even tried to sing in English. On the other hand, a whole lot of what Atheist Rap is all about would’ve been lost in translation. It’s the particular sense of humor these guys are known for. I dare say, even a specific Novi Sad type of humor. Like Toy Dolls, the Serbian way, kind of.

Then again, their music does speak volumes. Even in this, the earliest stage of their career. It’s primal punk rock, in a sort of a naïve way. And when I write “naïve”, it’s not in a bad context, as that is a natural way of expression for a bunch of kids without much musical skill, but with a heartfelt desire to play. To this day, even if the band improved massively through the course of decades, it remains the thing that makes them stand out in the crowd.

Following the “stars of the county down” comes Fear Of Dog, one of the earliest examples of Serbian grindcore. Everything here is as you can expect. Loud, noisy, hate fueled and, yet again, laced with humor. It somewhat falls out of the rest of this LP with its raw brutality, but it still stands as a testament to diversity Novi Sad produced back in the late 1980’s.

Not to mention that the appearance of this quartet might even instigate interest of a number of metalheads for this release. Nice job in picking them out.

Fluorel Tačkaš opens side B. The band that dispersed once all of its members slid into Atheist Rap. Their music covers a wide array of influences, which makes for quite some diversity among the four songs. For instance, the first one, “20. vek”, sounds like The Stooges. The one following it, “Nevaljale pesme” offers a glimpse into what will become Atheist Rap’s trademark. Then there’s an ode to early hardcore punk, called “Skok u mrak”. And the dark, almost new wave “Moja soba”. Sounds like Fluorel Tačkaš was in the middle of looking for its own path through punk when it all collided into the powerhouse that is Atheist Rap.

Closing this, I’ll go ahead and call it an anthology, is Kapetan Leshi, the sole representative of pure hardcore punk, in the vein of early masters. Okay, there’s also a garage vibe roaming through these three songs, but it just adds to the old school feel. Sounds like the band had a clear idea of what they wanted and how to do it. Their recording definitely sounds the most compact of the four. It’s a damn shame these tracks (recorded in the drummer’s apartment) are the only ones that remain as the band’s legacy.

Thus the black circle stops spinning. Prior to flipping it back to the beginning, I need to put things into perspective. When it comes to punk, it is highly important. As I’ve already noted above, when these recordings were made, the country was about to collapse into a civil war. However, at the same time we were still a part of the eastern bloc. We were under a communist regime. Conditions for artistic expression, especially in a non-commercial and very expensive hobby were non-existent. Think about it, just buying a guitar took a millions of dinars back then.

Yet, there were young people, stubborn enough, resilient enough and with hearts full of music. This LP is a resultant of all those strivings. Think about it, and spin this record.