For this week’s retrospective I decided to rip off a few hundred words on an album, and really a band, that I’ve fallen back in love with. (Not to say that I ever fell out of love with them though, I guess) Recently, flipping through what remains of my vinyl collection—a basement flood ruined something like 300 LPs—I found a crate with a few old, crusty buddies, one of them being Assück. I suddenly realized I didn’t want to live in a world where I couldn’t listen to these guys on a regular basis. So a few MP3 purchases later, I was blasting Assück on the way to my corporate, government job and realizing what a fraud I was. Released January of 1997, Misery Index was the second and, sadly, last album released by Assück—but last doesn’t mean weakest.
It’s hard to pin down Assück. At times they can seem like grindcore and at others they sound like doom-inspired death metal. But, overall, they’re a crust punk band ready to blast the system to shreds. (Although, with fifteen songs in just over fifteen minutes, a strong argument can be made for the grindcore aspect.) The lyrics are rife with themes of alienation, nihilism and eco-social rape with the overarching apparent theme of desperation and hopelessness. Who cares right? Genres are merely labels and if we were all, as humans, confined to our labels, we would be very boring. Luckily, Assück, like many of us, refused the confines of such labels.
Amid an already-burgeoning death metal scene in St. Petersburg, the band was too outraged at the system to jump into the sex-riddled, satanism of the Florida death metal mold. They did, however, incorporate some death metal vocal stylings, which lend an exaggerated darkness and depth to their brief, spastic attacks. The combination of the deep, chasm-like barks and the often speedy rhythm section provided a canvas upon which angry folks of many indulgences could, together, fight the demons that have so uniformly assuaged them.
Tracks like “Dataclast” and its successor “Blight of Element” hit about as hard as any non-tangible art form can. The lyrics are angry, raging against the self, alienation and religion, and threatening redress in the most violent and earth-scorching of ways. Perfect tracks from which youngsters can form their political and social ideals—and, for us older bastards, perfect tracks to remember the days when we tried harder.
If you didn’t have the privilege of raging out to these guys in the 1990s, there is no shame in visiting it now. It’s a definite must for any punk or metal fan to become not only familiar but intimately familiar with the work of Assück—and not only Misery Index, but also their other “full-length,” 1991’s Anticapital. Their works are monumental not only for how unique they sounded when they were released but also for how relevant they remain today. They not only pushed the bounds of genres and inspired other bands to do so but they created a timeless sound for emotional and social anarchy.
So tell your boss you don’t need their corporate bull and blast the some Assück!