Ah, April. The air is crisp, the baby animals are frolicking – and apparently, the Swedish Crust Machine has gone into overdrive. For those who didn’t get enough of a D-beating from Victims’ latest album, Parasit is here to belch a layer of grime and bathroom scum all over your precious springtime paradise with sophomore LP A Proud Tradition of Stupidity. Formed in 2010 by three former members of long-running crust act Uncurbed, Parasit released debut Välj Din Egen Bödel in 2013 before going through line-up shuffles and emerging as a quintet for this latest venture. While Tradition doesn’t break much new ground, it’s an excellent display of scene veterans delivering a maniacally ferocious, raw work that checks all the boxes of this style – before crumbling up that checklist, tossing it in the gutter, and leaving to go smash Molotov cocktails through the windows of the nearest corporate building.
If you’ve heard Doom, Discharge, or Extreme Noise Terror, you pretty much know what to expect: a battering stream of D-beats delivered at tempos which vary from ‘bang your head motherfuckers’ to ‘don’t even try to keep up.’ Charging firebomb guitar chords that either gallop along or get tossed around like a drunkard juggling chainsaws. And an eye-popping, spittle flinging roar of a vocal performance. There’s the obligatory sleazy bass guitar lead-ins (“No Honour – No Glory”), songs about drinking (“After Work Bars”), and title-screaming refrains that will have you bobbing your head and mumbling to yourself on the subway for the next three weeks (the deviously catchy title track).
But while excelling at this template, Parasit still differentiate themselves from the pack. Opener “Den Enes Brod” (‘One Man’s Bread’) initially sounds like a modern Napalm Death B-side with its bull elephant guitar tone, urgent riffing, and vocalist Simon Frid’s similarity to Barney Greenway. Like Napalm, the group offer plenty of material – Tradition’s 16 tracks and 32 minutes are quite a healthy dose of crust – but also ample variety and memorability. Songs like aforementioned “Bars” and “There’s No Tomorrow” will have you raising your unwashed fist with their scream-along choruses, while third track “At Whatever Cost” serves as the early basher which cranks up the tempo before climaxing in a wild, stringy solo. “Money Slave” and “Market Sets” turn the formula around, bobbing on half-time, chunky verses that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Toxic Holocaust LP.
With a sound rawer than an uncooked sausage, it’s amazing that the production remains so clear and crisp. The respectable DR allows all elements – from the battering, loose-cannon drumming to the flailing anus solos of “Hur Svårt Kan Det Va” – to work perfectly in balance. The guitar tone is downright explosive, closely recalling Napalm Death’s Smear Campaign, while the bass grumbles with a wonderful recorded-in-the-garage buzz.
It’s a shame, then, that by the end of the record’s first half, you’ve pretty much heard every trick the group can pull. It feels like whining, but Tradition is one of those records that does its style damn well – but never does anything to tip itself into the ‘amazing’ category. These are well-trodden grounds in a very straightforward style of music. As such, later songs like “En Vilsen Själ” (‘A Lost Soul’) lose potency not necessarily because they’re inferior to earlier tracks, but because the brick-to-the-face chords and charging tempos sound so similar to exactly what’s been playing for the last 20 minutes. Parasit ride this sound out, and there’s no twist, eyebrow-raising moment, or hold-nothing-back finale that makes the end result feel like anything more than a very competent version of what’s been done for the past 20 years.
Still, it’s hard to complain when it’s this much fun – and it’s done with such vein-popping conviction. For those looking for a delightfully trashy good time, A Proud Tradition of Stupidity offers all the scuffed Converses and frayed jean shorts fans of Disfear or Wolfbrigade could desire. This is like a retrospective depiction of starving young men who write songs by hot-gluing together power-chord progressions while the scraggly kid from down the street hammers out D-beats with the earnestness of someone who still believes music can change the world. It’s like a toilet filled with used tampons, broken syringes, and ripped pages from The Communist Manifesto. And I mean that in the best way possible.