Crust punk

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Crust punk (also known as stenchcore or simply crust)[6] is a subgenre of punk rock influenced by the English punk scene as well as extreme metal.[1] The style, which evolved in the early 1980s in England,[7] often has songs with dark and pessimistic lyrics that linger on political and social ills. The term "crust" was coined by Hellbastard on their 1986 Ripper Crust demo.[8]

Crust is partly defined by its "bassy" and "dirty" sound. It is often played at a fast tempo with occasional slow sections. Vocals are usually raspy screams, but can also be grunted/growled. Crust punk takes cues from the anarcho-punk of Crass and Discharge[1] and the heavy metal of bands like Venom, Trouble, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Black Sabbath and Motörhead.[1][9] While the term was first associated with Hellbastard, Amebix have been described as the originators of the style, along with Discharge and Antisect.[1]



Crust punk is a derivative form of anarcho-punk, mixed with metal riffs.[1] The tempos are often fast, but just short of thrashcore or grindcore. However, many groups confine themselves to a crawling, sludgy pace. The overall musical sound has been described as being "stripped down".[10] Drumming is typically done at high speed, with D-beats sometimes being used.[2] In Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics, author Gabriel Kuhn referred to the genre as a "blend of 1977 British punk, roots culture and black metal", with the genre often taking influence from death metal, grindcore and powerviolence.[11]

Vocals and lyrics[edit]

Vocals in crust punk are often shrieked or shouted, and may be shared between two or more vocalists. The lyrical content of crust punk tends to be bleak and nihilistic, yet politically engaged. Crust punk songs are often about nuclear war, militarism, animal rights, police, personal grievances, oppressive states and fascism. Amebix were also interested in various forms of mysticism and Gnosticism.[9] Malcolm "Scruff" Lewty, guitarist and vocalist of Hellbastard, describes the distinction between metal and crust punk lyrics "Metal lyrics were so dumb, so far removed from daily life. Venom were going on about Satan... and bikes... and Satan... and women... and Satan! You know what? I never got up in the morning and said, 'Fuck yeah! Satan! Let's go and meet my disciples from Hell!' I'd switch on the TV and know I was going to see hundreds of people dying because there'd been an earthquake in the third world... and all these people starving to death while military expenditure still increased... That was — and still is — the reality of it. The whole heavy metal thing is just an escape from reality, into this other world of... well, bullshit basically."[12]



The initial inspiration for the crust punk scene came from the anarcho-punk of Crass[1] and D-beat of Discharge.[5] Swedish D-beat groups such as Crude SS, Skitslickers/Anti Cimex and Mob 47 and the Finnish Rattus were also early influences.[13] Amebix also brought in influences from various post-punk bands, including Public Image Ltd., Bauhaus, Joy Division, and especially Killing Joke.[9]


Pioneering English crust punk band Antisect performing in Finland in 2011

Crust was founded by the bands Amebix[2][14] and Antisect.[1] The term "crust" was coined by Hellbastard on their 1986 Ripper Crust demo.[1] In his book Trapped in a Scene, punk historian Ian Glasper said "Rippercrust is widely regarded as the first time the word 'crust' was used in the punk context, and hence the specific starting point of the whole crust punk genre, although some would attribute that accolade to the likes of Disorder, Chaos UK, and Amebix several years earlier.[8] In the same book, he quoted the group's vocalist and guitarist Malcolm "Scruff" Lewty "A lot of people say we started the crust punk genre, but whatever. If they wanna say that, I don't mind, but I'm certainly no Malcolm McLaren, saying I invented something I didn't."[8] However, in Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics, author Gabriel Kuhn Punk stated that the name of the genre came from the "crusty" appearance of the genre's practitioning bands.[11] journalist Felix von Havoc contends that Doom, Excrement of War, Electro Hippies and Extreme Noise Terror were among the first bands to have the traditional UK "crust" sound.[1] Additional subgenres of this style began to develop. Deviated Instinct, from Norwich, created "stenchcore", bringing "both the look and sound — dirty and metallic, respectively — to their natural conclusion".[15] Initially an anarcho-punk group, they began to take increasing influence from metal. As vocalist Julian "Leggo" Kilsby comments "We were very much a part of the anarcho scene, to start with, very politically motivated... all the way through the band's existence, really, although it got less obvious as time went by. But I never really liked the straightforward 'War is bad...' lyrics that were so prevalent at the time, so as my writing skills improved I wanted to add more depth to our lyrics and make them more metaphorical; I'd always been into horror films, so that started to manifest itself in the imagery I was using.[16]

Extreme Noise Terror is credited with developing this style into grindcore.[5] However, Pete Hurley, the guitarist for the group, declared that he had no interest in being remembered as a pioneer of this style: "'grindcore' was a legendarily stupid term coined by a hyperactive kid from the West Midlands, and it had nothing to do with us whatsoever. ENT were, are, and — I suspect — always will be a hardcore punk band... not a grindcore band, a stenchcore band, a trampcore band, or any other sub-sub-sub-core genre-defining term you can come up with."[17]

American crust punk began in New York City, also in the mid-1980s, with the work of Nausea. The group emerged from the Lower East Side squat scene and New York hardcore,[18] living with Roger Miret of Agnostic Front.[19] The early work of Neurosis, from San Francisco, also borrowed from Amebix, and inaugurated crust punk on the West Coast.[20][21] Disrupt (Boston),[22] Antischism (South Carolina), MISERY and Destroy (Minneapolis) were also significant U.S. crust groups.[1]


An important American crust punk band was Aus Rotten[23] from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Crust punk also flourished in Minneapolis, shepherded by the Profane Existence label.[13] In this period, the ethos of crust punk became particularly codified, with vegetarianism, feminism, and sometimes straight edge being prescribed by many of the figures in the scene.[13] The powerviolence scene associated with Slap-a-Ham Records was in close proximity to crust punk, particularly in the case of Man Is the Bastard and Dropdead.[24] Crust was also prominent in the American South, where Prank Records and CrimethInc. acted as focal points of the scene. The most well-known representative of Southern crust was His Hero Is Gone.[2][25] Prominent crust punk groups (Driller Killer, Totalitär, Skitsystem, Wolfbrigade, and Disfear) also emerged from Sweden, which had always had a strong D-beat scene. Many of these groups developed in parallel with the much more commercial Scandinavian death metal scene.[26]


Some notable crust bands in the 2000s include Iskra,[27] Behind Enemy Lines,[28] and Tragedy. The Spanish city A Coruña has a crust scene which includes bands as Black Panda, Ekkaia and Madame Germen.[29] In 2017, Bandcamp Daily wrote that Fluff Fest, held in Czechia since 2000, has become a "summer ritual" for many European crust fans.[30]

Relations with other genres[edit]

Vivian Slaughter of Gallhammer.

Black metal[edit]

Crust punk groups, such as Antisect, Sacrilege and Anti System took some influence from early black metal bands like Venom, Hellhammer, and Celtic Frost,[1] while Amebix's lead vocalist and guitarist sent his band's early demo tape to Cronos of Venom, who replied by saying "We'll rip you off".[31] Similarly, Bathory was initially inspired by crust punk as well as heavy metal.[32]

Blackened crust[edit]

Crust punk was affected by a second wave of black metal in the 1990s, with some bands emphasising these black metal elements. Iskra are probably the most obvious example of second wave black metal-influenced crust punk;[27] Iskra coined their own phrase "blackened crust" to describe their new style. The Japanese group Gallhammer also fused crust punk with black metal[33] while the English band Fukpig has been said to have elements of crust punk, black metal, and grindcore.[34][35] Germany's Downfall of Gaia has been described as mixing crustgrind and black metal, along with elements of sludge metal, doom metal and post-metal.[36] North Carolina's Young and in the Way have been playing blackened crust since their formation in 2009.[37] In addition, Norwegian band Darkthrone have incorporated crust punk traits in their mid-to-late 2000s material. As Daniel Ekeroth wrote in 2008,

In a very ironic paradox, black metal and crust punk have recently started to embrace one another. Members of Darkthrone and Satyricon have lately claimed that they love punk, while among crusties, black metal is the latest fashion. In fact, the latest album by crust punk band Skitsystem sounds very black metal--while the latest black metal opus by Darkthrone sounds very punk! This would have been unimaginable in the early 90s.

— [38]

Red and anarchist black metal[edit]

Red and anarchist black metal (also known as RABM or anarchist black metal)[39][40][41] is a subgenre that melds black metal with anarchist crust punk, promoting ideologies such as anarchism, environmentalism, or Marxism.[42][43][44][45] Artists labelled RABM include Iskra, Panopticon, Skagos,[45][46] Storm of Sedition,[39] Not A Cost,[39] Black Kronstadt,[39] and Vidargangr.[41]

Crack rock steady[edit]

Crack rock steady is a punk rock fusion-genre, which combines elements of crust punk and ska punk.[47] Lyrics often focus on themes such as drug-use, religion,[48] politics[49] and social issues.[47] Other genres sometimes incorporated in conjunction with the style include hardcore punk[48] and heavy metal.[50] Notable bands within the genre include Choking Victim, Leftöver Crack, Morning Glory and Star Fucking Hipsters.[48]


Crustcore (also known as crusty hardcore), is a sub-genre of crust punk that takes influence from hardcore punk and sometimes thrashcore. Felix Havoc described Extreme Noise Terror's segment of the "Earslaughter" split album with Chaos UK as the first album in the genre. Crustcore bands include Extreme Noise Terror, Doom, Disrupt,[1] Wolfbrigade,[51] Neurosis,[52] Baptists,[53] Discharge[54] and Filth.[55]


Crust punk had a major impact on grindcore's emergence. The first grindcore, practised by the British bands such as Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror emerged from the crust punk scene.[1] This early style is sometimes dubbed "crustgrind".[5]

Neo crust[edit]

Neo crust is a genre that merges crust punk with elements of various extreme music styles including black metal, screamo, post-rock, hardcore punk,[56] death metal and doom metal.[57] Unlike most other punk–metal fusion genres, neo-crust's sound is neither distinctively rooted in punk or metal, instead frequently shifting between the two, disregarding genre boundaries.[57] It is often dark and heavy however also melodic.[57] Notable bands include His Hero is Gone, Tragedy,[58] Fall of Efrafa[57] and From Ashes Rise.[59]


Crust punks are associated with a DIY-oriented branch of punk garb. Similar to anarcho-punk, most clothing is black in colour. Denim jackets and hooded sweatshirts with sewn-on patches, or vests covered in studs, spikes and band patches are characteristic elements of the crust punk style of dress or pants covered in band patches.[60] Crust punks also sometimes wear dreadlocks and piercings.[11] Julian "Leggo" Kilsby of Deviated Instinct describes crust as "a punk-y biker look, more akin to Mad Max. Mad Max 2 is the crustiest film ever made!"[61]

Members of the sub-culture are generally outspokenly political, possessing anarchist and anti-consumerist views.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Von Havoc, Felix (1 January 1984). "Rise of Crust". Profane Existence. Archived from the original on 15 June 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d Peter Jandreus, The Encyclopedia of Swedish Punk 1977-1987, Stockholm: Premium Publishing, 2008, p. 11.
  3. ^ "A History Of Metal - Punk Special: Crust Punk". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ Popoff, Martin (2017). Speed Metal.
  5. ^ a b c d "In Grind We Crust," p. 46.
  6. ^ Cunha, Ricardo. "Crust: the other side of the coin". Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  7. ^ "In Crust We Trust". Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Glasper 2009, 185
  9. ^ a b c Glasper 2006. "Amebix." p. 198-201.
  10. ^ Loolwa Khazzoom, Special to The Chronicle (11 March 2005). "Livermore: All's well with the Bay Area punk scene say members of the Sick". Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  11. ^ a b c d Kuhn, Gabriel (2010). Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics. PM Press. p. 16. ISBN 9781604860511.
  12. ^ Glasper 2009, 183."
  13. ^ a b c "In Grind We Crust," p. 51.
  14. ^ "The Gauntlet". The Gauntlet. 29 February 2008. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  15. ^ Glasper 2009, 284
  16. ^ Glasper 2009, 286
  17. ^ Glasper 2009, 279
  18. ^ Init 5, 25 September 2007. [1] Access date: 18 June 2008.
  19. ^ John John Jesse interview, Hoard Magazine, June 2005. "John John Jesse interview - HOARD MAGAZINE". Archived from the original on 21 September 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2009. Access date: 18 June 2008
  20. ^ Adam Louie, Mastodon, Neurosis show review, Prefix magazine, 29 January 2008 [2] Access date: 18 June 2008
  21. ^ Anthony Bartkewicz, Decibel Magazine No. 31, May 2007. [3] Access date: 18 June 2008
  22. ^ Nick Mangel, Disrupt LP review, Maximum Rock'n'Roll #301, June 2008, record reviews section.
  23. ^ "Crust-punks Behind Enemy Lines release One Nation Under The Iron Fist of God Archived 2011-11-28 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Powerviolence: The Dysfunctional Family of Bllleeeeaaauuurrrgghhh!!." Terrorizer no. 172. July 2008. p. 36-37.
  25. ^ Andrew Childers, "Kick in the South: A Look Back at Prank Records and the Southern Crust Scene." 5 April 2008. [4] Access date: 21 June 2008
  26. ^ Ekeroth, p. 107, 266.
  27. ^ a b Iskra Interviews Archived 15 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ Mervis, Scott (1 February 2007). "Pittsburgh Calling: A capsule look at Pittsburgh bands making news". Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  29. ^ es:Crust punk#D.C3.A9cada de los 90s.2F00s .28Portland.2C Suecia.2C Espa.C3.B1a.29
  30. ^ Sanna, Jacopo (20 September 2017). "The Sincere and Vibrant World of the Czech DIY Scene". Bandcamp. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  31. ^ Dunlap, Xander. "Directionless people are malleable—easily pointed in the wrong directions". Thrasher. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  32. ^ Ekeroth, p. 27.
  33. ^ "Hard of Hearing", Terrorizer no. 171, June 2008, p. 56.
  34. ^ "Fukpig". Supersonic Festival. 22 October 2010. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  35. ^ "C: Do you think that FUKPIG has founded a style of his own? Misery: Nah its just d-beat crust, with added horror C: and then What difference to FUKPIG from the rest of the bands? Misery: We add more black metal / horror influences, but are still inspired by the same things C: Is Necro-Punk your style? Misery: Yeah, necro in the black metal style playing crust punk, so yeah Necro Punk." Interview: Fukpig Archived 10 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ Weber, Austin (4 December 2014). "Downfall of Gaia: "Aeon Unveils the Thrones of Decay"". No Clean Singing. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  37. ^ Zorgdrager, Bradley. "Young and in the Way When Life Comes to Death". Exclaim!. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  38. ^ Ekeroth, p. 258.
  39. ^ a b c d "Canadian Crust Punks Storm of Sedition Go Off the Grid on Their Furious New 'Decivilize' LP | NOISEY". NOISEY. April 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  40. ^ "Skagos: Anarchic Album Review | Pitchfork". Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  41. ^ a b Berto. "Review Vidargangr – A World That has To Be Opposed". Lords of Metal. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  42. ^ "De Zwaarste Metalgids: 66 metalgenres in één zin uitgelegd". Studio Brussel (in German). Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  43. ^ Gevorgyan, Elen. "Music, Ideology and How They Interact: A Journey from Sacred Music to Black Metal" (PDF). American University of Armenia. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  44. ^ Nonjon, Adrien (2019). Black Metal Theory Symposium Program. University of Ljubljana. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  45. ^ a b "If It Ain't Got No Blastbeat, It's Not My Revolution: Panopticon". PopMatters. 19 July 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  46. ^ "Skagos: Anarchic Album Review – Pitchfork".
  47. ^ a b "14 Bush-era political artworks that stood the test of time". The A.V. Club. 23 January 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  48. ^ a b c GENTILE, JOHN (12 September 2015). "Sonic Reducer: Crack Rock Steady". Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  49. ^ MOSES, JEFF. "Leftover Crack Doesn't Just Talk About Being Punk". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  50. ^ VERDUCCI, RICHARD (8 October 2010). "Scott Sturgeon (Leftover Crack/Star F*cking Hipsters)". Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  51. ^ LUEDTKE, CHRISTOPHER (15 May 2017). "Album Review: WOLFBRIGADE Run With The Hunted". Metal Injection. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  52. ^ Kelly, Kim (14 August 2015). "Thrash 'n burn: why 1985 was metal's defining year". Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  53. ^ Adams, Gregory. "Ladyhawk Celebrate 10th Anniversary with "Decade of Passive Aggression" Canadian Tour, Outline New Album Possibilities". Exclaim!. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  54. ^ Adams, Gregory. "Discharge Sign with Nuclear Blast for First Album in 8 Years". Exclaim!. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  55. ^ Breihan, Tom (30 October 2013). "White Fence – "Today's Lesson" (Filth Cover)". Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  56. ^ Kelly, Kim (31 March 2016). "Ancst's Anti-Fascist Agenda Bleeds into the Urgent Black Metal Crust of Their New Album 'Moloch'". Vice Media. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  57. ^ a b c d Tiernan, Jake (20 November 2015). "Starter Kit: Neo Crust". Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  58. ^ Silva, Thiago “Índio” (19 September 2018). "10 bandas de metal extremo pra você que é esquerdista". Vice Media. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  59. ^ "Neo-Crust". 16 March 2021. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  60. ^ Kevin Stewart-Panko, "I Saw Disfear Three Times in Three Days", Decibel, no. 46, August 2008, p. 22.
  61. ^ Glasper 2009, 287

Further reading[edit]

  • Ekeroth, Daniel (2008). Swedish Death Metal. Bazillion Points Books. ISBN 978-0-9796163-1-0
  • Glasper, Ian (2004). Burning Britain: The History of UK Punk 1980-1984. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 1-901447-24-3
  • Glasper, Ian (2006). The Day the Country Died: A History of Anarcho Punk 1980 to 1984. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 1-901447-70-7
  • Glasper, Ian (2009). Trapped in a Scene: UK Hardcore 1985-1989. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 978-1-901447-61-3
  • "In Grind We Crust," Terrorizer #181, March 2009, p. 46, 51.
  • Mudian, Albert (2000). Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore. Feral House. ISBN 1-932595-04-X
  • Profane Existence (1997). Making Punk a Threat Again: Profane Existence: Best Cuts 1989-1993. Loincloth. ASIN: B000J2M8GS