Label: 5A Pro / Udruženje Pogon Kulture Novi Sad / Crni Ovan
Date: January 31st, 2023
Second part of this vinyl series is out and about. You can easily conclude what it’s all about from the title. If you’re carefully following Abaddon Magazine, there’s a chance you’re familiar with this already, since we’ve reviewed the first release as well. Naturally, it takes really little effort if you’re in any way connected with rock ‘n’ roll in Serbia (even less if you happen to be stationed in Novi Sad) to be aware of this release’s existence.
What concerns the importance of this endeavor I’ve clearly stated in my review of “volume one”. It is worthy of a medal, appreciation for cultural achievement, preservation and promotion. Yes, this is a punk record, but such musical (and artistic in general) archeological finds should be conserved in national libraries for posture.
So, once you finish browsing through the most prominent names of Serbian (Yugoslav) punk, here’s the next step or more, depending on how much further these collectives will keep pushing the series.
This time, we dive a bit less into the ages. The last collection included demos recorded between 1988 and 1990. 1990 to 1994 is the timespan in this instance. And if the times were hard when the bands on the previous split started out, the first half of 1990s were literal hell on earth. As best portrayed by an article scanned and included within the record’s magnum booklet.
The article in question was published in local newspapers, announcing the punk show to which the ticket cost was a hundred million dinars. Yup, 100 000 000 dinars. Hyperinflation and civil war raging just next door made playing in a band absolutely unnecessary. Unwanted even, since buying musical instruments when there was food shortage all over the place seems a fool’s choice.
At the same time, it was a natural choice to escape the madness, especially for young people who had no influence on anything that made their lives a shitty ordeal. UN sanctions meant they could not travel. Hyperinflation “ate” their parents’ income, meaning their allowance was also not quite what it needed to be. Wartime atrocities that covered the television programs through and through certainly left a mark on a young brain.
So, the choice was hardcore punk. Fast, aggressive music that could be played without expensive instruments or lessons.
Along come our four heroes.
Mitesers is the best known of the bunch. Also the one best exposed, having a commendable discography, though their potential certainly promised more. And they would certainly achieve more if there was only a chance to break through in such an impossible conditions. This collection could be a chance to do so, at least “post mortem”.
The said discography allowed the band to take the whole A side of this vinyl to itself. Two demos, back to back, show the humble and promising beginning, as well as a mature, built together hardcore structure that Mitesers became by 1994.
The debut demo is downright amateurish though showing signs of what’s to come. We’ve got a band striving for hardcore yet somehow stuck in late 1980s / early 1990s “zeitgeist” of crossover between hardcore and thrash metal. Adding to it an overly humorous take on lyrics, “Join the Cuga Crew” is a bunch of kids playing around in a studio. Only, they were musically on a level playing field with bands that formed hardcore and crossover. While the lyrics covered the banter between the members, the music was fast, fierce and highly energetic, not lacking fresh riffs that are driving even when you listen to them today, millions-of-songs-heard later. Then again, combine the music with somewhat serious lyrics regarding the sell-out status in “Prodane Duše”, you have a dedicated band with something to say and, even if kids at the time of the song’s creation, an attitude and awareness of the scene and what it should be.
Mitesers’ second demo, closing the A side is already a show of a mature band with many miles behind and a taste and creative skillset to match. There’s still humor in some lyrics, but there are more of those that look within the scene (“Guest List”, “Ona je naš fan”) or issues with drug abuse (“Kesa”).
Musically though, the band takes on diversity and attempts (with relative success) to incorporate various punk subgenres into one that could be their own. From early hardcore to ska and post punk influences, Mitesers show that their musical taste has grown exponentially in three short years. They aim higher and are not bad at it. To perfectly exemplify the fact, the band included a cover of Crvena Jabuka (a pop / rock band from Bosnia that was about to slip from likeable to downright pathetic) that sounds as if it belongs to punk and nowhere else.
K. N. O. opens side B with the darkest and punkiest this LP has to offer. Their lyrics are pointed towards all the wrongs and unfairness of society, while they follow them musically with strong old school street punk in the vein of GBH and pinches of Oi! to spice things up. Direct approach to songwriting and lightning bolts of energy that fire up the place are the biggest assets of K. N. O.’s third demo from 1991. Four tracks that explore the stupidity, drug abuse (also stupidity, right?) and assortment of other issues with the world of late twentieth century that transcend to today.
Basically, what K. N. O. stood for was a stream of punk commonly associated with United Kingdom of 1982, but has since become an evergreen. As with Mitesers, their road ended up way too soon for them to prove their worth. However, what’s on display here is a show that there is more than enough to induce at least appreciation.
As for Invalidi Uma, again we have a straight-forward, pushing old school punk, influenced by everything from The Stooges to The Damned and early hardcore. The same I told you about the bands above, I can repeat here. The differences are that Invalidi Uma are a bit more on the raw and animalistic side (The Stooges) of punk and the vocals that are fairly out of place, though the liner notes explain that the vocalist actually never showed up for the recording session so the drummer had to sing. The infantile shock effect attempted in “To sam ja” is an example, albeit the only one since the rest, at least lyrically, take on more serious topics.
By the way, disbanding of all these bands meant the formation and upheaval of Mitesers with whom they all share members. Apparently, they’ve all served as formative for the personalities that went on to form the most mature and promising of them all.
This piece of black gold finishes with Out Of Control’s only two-song demo recording. Punk with hardcore traces here and there is correctly compared in the booklet with bands like Descendents or Bad Religion. Hardcore punk with just enough melody within for variety (later perverted by the likes of Green Day and The Offspring).
The sound on their tracks is the poorest of the four here, so some of the finesse is lost but the fact remains that they had an idea, which was also later incorporated into Mitesers’ sound, and they had the skill to execute it. Unfortunately, they lacked resources for further uprising.
Now, it would be terribly unfair if I didn’t mention the visual side of this release. In following the concept of this vinyl series, the same girl was in charge of the cover artwork. Ivana Đurđević did a great job explaining the years and the sounds coming out of those years in picture. Naturally, these types of releases would be a dreadful miss without a thick booklet brimming with liner notes, biographies of all the bands included and a wealth of photos, flyers, posters and articles from personal archives.
As if that’s not already enough, you get a bunch of stickers and a large Mitesers poster.
A full package, indeed! I can’t wait for the third part of this anthology! What are you waiting for!?