With Tau Cross’ self-titled album (which picks up where Amebix’s 2011 release left off) gracing so many “Best of 2015” lists and Killing Joke (to whom so many compare Amebix) releasing their fifteenth studio album Pylon on October 23, 2015 there’s never been a better time to discuss Amebix’s debut LP, Arise! Released in 1985 on Alternative Tentacles, Arise! forever changed the heavy music scene by blending the burgeoning, aggressive sound of crust punk with elements of metal and gothic metal to make a crossover album for generations to come. Amebix would go on to release only three albums in their entire career although, those three albums would be landmark releases. Those other releases are: Monolith, in 1987 and then Sonic Mass another twenty-four years later in 2011.
There is nothing more important than actually listening to the album itself but let’s wax philosophical here for a bit. The crust movement began with precursors like Discharge and Crass and then exploded with bands like Antisect, Hellbastard, and Doom pumping out straight-forward, d-beat laden crust with a focus on the politically charged lyrical themes and aggressiveness. Essentially, crust music, much like its precursors, was more about attitude, pomp and political immediacy than it was the musicianship. That is, of course, not to say that the precursors and origins did not have talent and vision. Most certainly they did. But Amebix came along and blew it all out of the water. Their genre blending sound combined with Rob “The Baron” Miller’s signature vocal styling (which will forever be linked stylistically to Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke) along with Stig and Billy Jug (then Martin and then, for Arise! Spider) created something completely unique. Something that fans of all genres that shared even the smallest venn diagram with crust would not only enjoy but become enthralled with.
One final interesting note, the 4th track “Largactyl” was about the breakdown, hospitalization and rehabilitation (mostly medically) of previous drummer Martin who was removed from the band by his parents following a severe mental breakdown. The songs name is taken from the proprietary name for Chlorpromazine aka Thorazine. Thus began the reveal of personal struggle and the exploration of mental illness in the crust movement.