Askance and Contagen…Posted on Friday, June 23rd, 2006 @ 9:27am » permalink
I probably won't update the site again until the end of next week because I have a bunch of days off work and don't want to spend them on a fucking computer, so I'm gonna drop a double shot of obscure old bands from my area in the meantime. First up is Askance, and I don't really know much about this band at all since I didn't get this 7" until several years after they folded. I was just starting to really get into hardcore in the early-90's anyway, so by the time I was even aware that Askance had existed the EP was already pretty damn hard to find. Aside from a couple of compilation appearances in 1992/1993, "You'll Never Be the Mannequin" was the band's only release, which came out on the Catheter Assembly label in 1993. For anyone who cares, Catheter Assembly was started by at least one member of Avail, and 13 years ago the label's P.O. Box was coincidentally in the same post office where I've been receiving mail for like 10 years now… so there's some useless trivia for you.
Askance was definitely a unique sounding band (largely due to the vocals), but musically the material does have that recognizably "90's sound" where it's not straightforward hardcore, but it's definitely not metal, nor is it particularly emo, even though influences from all three genres can be picked out in the dissonance of the riffing. The drumming on this record is fuckin' stellar as well, there are loads of slick fills and a lot of the playing is based solely on feel, so it's flashy enough to really make a difference without going over the top. I also always loved this style of guitar work, and still do: I can't wrap my head around the fact that almost no damn bands have carried this vibe over into the present. What gives? Lyrically this stuff was definitely dealing in the socio-political realm, though the personal insight element was driven home by loads and loads of explanatory text within the packaging. Hopefully some of you will appreciate this, though I imagine the younger crowd might turn up their noses to all this stuff. I apologize for the number of little vinyl "pops and clicks" in the tracks, but hey, it's a 13-year-old 7", what can you do, you know?
The band members were only credited by their first names in the 7", but as far as lineup connections go I believe guitarist Matt Rankin had played on Four Walls Falling's self-titled 7" a year earlier, while he and vocalist Jimmy Anthony later formed Contagen (see below). If any collector types are interested in tracking down a copy of this 7" for themselves, there's actually one fairly inexpensive copy on eBay right now. But once that's gone? Good luck! This was one of the harder EP's I ever persisted to obtain in my day, so…