The Greatest Albums Of All Time: REPULSION “Horrified” (1989)

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The date this album was released is a bit misleading.  To appreciate the full history and influence this band and recording had on extreme music, you have to go back to their formation in the early to mid ’80s.  They started out under the name GENOCIDE, and released 3 demos under that name (Toxic Metal (1984); Violent Death (1985), and The Stench of Burning Death (1986)).  They put the band on hiatus while a couple of the members joined DEATH for a short period, but that didn’t work out so they reformed as REPULSION (a much better name, both in image and originality (there were at least 2 other bands who had recordings under the name GENOCIDE)).
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The GENOCIDE demos got them a lot of attention in the underground metal and hardcore scene, and they became known as one of the fastest and most extreme bands out, as well as one of the first bands to perfectly mix hardcore and metal (which created grindcore, a term coined by the band NAPALM DEATH a little later when they appropriated the sound (they started out as an anarcho-punk band) and made it even more extreme).  As REPULSION they were determined to play even faster and be even more extreme.  They booked some time in a local low budget basement recording studio ran by a burned out hippie who regarded their music with derision, and recorded their 18 song masterpiece (or should it be blasterpiece?) in 4 days.  Most of the songs were GENOCIDE songs that they sped up even more, but they found they were lacking in time (they wanted at least 30 minutes of music on it) so they wrote some longer songs (such as “Black Breath” and “Maggots In Your Coffin”) to fill up the time.  The last song they wrote (“Crematorium”) was barely finished being created when they went into the studio.
The engineer didn’t know anything about this kind of music, so he just pushed all the levels up and isolated them.  They recorded scratch guitar and bass tracks, then went back in and relayed them after they got the drums the way they wanted.  The vocals were done on a cheap PCM mike, which gave them the distorted “yelled through a CB radio” effect.  The scratch bass was ran through a distortion pedal and plugged direct into the recording console, which gave it an insanely fuzzed out and distorted sound.  After they had finished re-recording their instruments for the real session, they discovered that the engineer had accidently  recorded some of the overdubbed guitar solos over the (supposed to be) permanent bass track, and they were out of time and couldn’t re-record it.  So they had to use the fuzzy scratch bass track in the final recording, which made it all the more distorted and intense.  When they finished they had an ugly, distorted mess- it was the closest thing to slightly sculpted chaos ever put on tape up to that point.  There was really nothing that extreme out in the world of hardcore or metal, and they were nonplussed about it.
They wanted to call it Slaughter of the Innocent, and sent it out to most of the labels that were putting out extreme music at the time.  None of the labels showed any interest, as it was far too chaotic and extreme and noisy for most any established label to think it would sell in 1986, so the band begin selling it themselves and circulating it in the underground on cassette.  It sold decently, but they were discouraged that no labels showed any interest in them, and after awhile they drifted apart (a couple of them joined the service) and thought that was that.  REPULSION the band was only together for probably less than 2 years.
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Meanwhile, the recording became a staple in the tape trading scene.  It’s intensity and uncompromising brutality made it legendary, and members of bands like NAPALM DEATH, PUNGENT STENCH, ENTOMBED,  and CARCASS (and many more) started spreading the word, talking about them in interviews and making them even more legendary.  Both Shane Embry (NAPALM DEATH) and Jeff Walker (CARCASS) tried to get Dig Pearson of Earache to release it, but he wasn’t totally convinced.  After CARCASS began getting big, Jeff decided to start his own record label Necrosis Records, and Dig agreed to distribute it’s releases on Earache.  After releasing a 12″ep of his old band the ELECTRO HIPPIES to get his feet wet, he wanted to put out REPULSION’s Slaughter of the Innocent album.  They got in touch with the band, and Dig funded a remix of the album.  They refined the sound a tiny bit (taking out some of the feedback and effects on the vocals) and decided the name Horrified fit the album better.  It was released on Necrosis in 1989, 3 years after it was recorded.
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The album still stands up today as a perfect example of an extreme mix of metal and hardcore taken to ten.  It starts off with a catchy, moshy slower part, then the mayhem begins.  And that describes it perfectly- mayhem.  Chaos.  All the fun and dangerous things you want in extreme music.  Super fuzzed out bass. Distorted, yelled vocals (that sound like no one else before or since).  Machine-gun drums.  Blazing guitar solos that come out of nowhere and disappear just as fast.  And of course the great EC Comics inspired horror lyrics.  I think the only thing I’d change is to leave the cool feedback in “Radiation Sickness” from the cassette version they sold themselves (they took it out when they remixed the album).
Get in touch with your brutal, primitive side and check this out if you haven’t heard it.  It’s never too late…

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