Review: Nausea “The Punk Terrorists Anthology Vol. 2: ‘85 - ‘88” CD

As the title would suggest, this is the second installment of this anthology, here collecting ultra rare and unreleased tracks from the early days of one of the most classic and definitive crust punk bands of all time: New York's own Nausea. These recordings feature some of the band's original members, including vocalist Neil (who later formed Jesus Chrust and the awesome Final Warning, as well as the Tribal War Records label) - one of whose only former recorded appearances with the band was on the "NYHC: The Way It Is" compilation (also featured herein) - and drummers Pablo Jacobson and Jimmy Williams (Who later went on to front Maximum Penalty - who knew he was once in Nausea!?). The first six tracks make up an unreleased 7" from 1988 that includes a little over 15 minutes of relatively straightforward hardcore/punk with an early crust edge, offering up a decent amount of tempo changes and lots of male/female vocal tradeoffs between Neil's gruff shouts and Amy's higher snarls. "MTV (Feeding of the Fortune 500)" is a little faster and more in your face, "New Generation" is unexpectedly melodic (How about that solo!?) and follows much more of a punk rock thread where the English accent in Neil's vocals is more prominent than usual, "Clutches" is slower and darker with a metallic edge, and "Home Sweet Home" kind of combines some of that darker metal with the basic punk rock simplicity (lyrics are included for these last two songs, but sadly neither recording contains vocals, so I'm not sure what's up with that). The next eight tracks come from an unreleased LP, also recorded in 1988, with a slightly rawer sound where the male vocals sound more shouted and the female vocals have an eerie undercurrent that works well. The drums are sort of distant in the mix and overall some details are definitely getting lost, but nonetheless the recording sounds pretty good for its age and definitely gets the job done. Exact recording dates aren't listed, so I'm not sure if this is older than the unreleased 7" or not, but the performances feel a little tighter and more pissed off here, despite the 7" boasting the stronger sound quality. "Sacrifice" drops an unexpected ska break midway through that lasts for the remaining half of the song and is actually kind of cool, "Night to Live" is another fast and straightforward blitz in the vein of Discharge with a ripping little lead break, etc. There are also a couple of tracks from this session where lyrics are included but the recordings don't have any vocals, so I guess a lot of these sessions were incomplete. Up next are a slew of two-track demos recorded with the one and only Don Fury, mostly in 1987, so of course the sound quality is pretty damn raw. There's a little bit of occasional hiss and light warping effects from age, and the overall presence is pretty thin, but you can still get a good feel for what the songs have to offer, and some of 'em sound quite decent. "Productive Not Destructive" is another straightforward and pissed off attack that highlights some of the English traits in Neil's vocal performance, "Red Winter" is another of the heavier tracks that has some darker dissonance involved, and "Divide & Conquer" yet again takes that all out D-beat path as effectively as ever. There are also demo versions with vocals for some of the incomplete tracks like "Clutches" and "Home Sweet Home" from earlier in the disc, which is awesome. Among the rarest cuts from these demo sessions are "Nauseous", which is often driven by bass and has a nice midpaced drive to it, and an untitled work in progress that's also without a vocal performance. Then it's a handful of live tracks recorded at CBGB's in 1987 (one from 1988) that actually sound really damn good considering, and the live rendition of the much more sinister "Self Destruct" is an amazing example of how much this band grew in just a short time. Also included are covers of Omega Tribe's "Freedom Peace and Unity", the Subhumans' "Religious Wars", and "Real Enemy" by The Business (which was also covered during the demo sessions). Closing it out is the classic version of "Fallout (Of Our Being)" that appeared on the aforementioned "NYHC: The Way It Is" compilation, and "Electrodes" tracked in the same session. Good stuff. The packaging looks good and contains tons of old photos and brief liner notes with lyrics for all of the tracks, so there's plenty to look through with this one. Of course lyrically the material deals with intensely socio-political content that paints a bleak picture: "As our last moment takes its toll, the madmen's wrath then unfolds, Everything crumbles on our heads, we flee as the sky turns red, The day will come when our houses burn, the ice won't melt, the world won't turn..." There's also a CD-Rom video for "Fallout (Of Our Being)" with various snippets of classic live footage and explosions and whatnot set to live audio, so... no big deal, but it's there to round it all out. All in all this is a really solid collection of songs. Sure, there are a number of duplicate tracks, and some songs were later re-recorded yet again, but not enough to where it strips value from this CD. Apparently none of this stuff has ever been bootlegged before or anything, so there's definitely some hard to find material on this thing, and I'm honestly not sure why some of this wasn't released back in the day!? Whatever the case, completists rejoice! But if you're new to the band, I'd definitely suggest starting with "The Punk Terrorists Anthology Vol. 1", as that's honestly the band's defining material that really made them such an outstanding landmark for the crust punk genre. If you're not familiar with Nausea you're definitely missing out...

[Alternative Tentacles]
Running time - 72:45, Tracks: 30
[Notable tracks: Godless, Clutches, Sacrifice, Night to Live, Productive Not Destructive, Red Winter, Divide & Conquer, Clutches, Self Destruct (live), Fallout (Of Our Being)]
Alternative Tentacles Records -