Disensitise and War Is Hell (Candlelight Records)
An album like Discharge’s 1982 masterpiece Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing can sometimes be one of the worst things to happen to a band. That disc reached the British Top 40 and spawned an entire subculture of hardcore bands (especially in Japan and Scandinavia) who adopted Discharge’s insistent music style, subsequently dubbed D-beat, as well as its leftist/anarchist politics and crusty black-leather look. The band couldn’t live up to Hear Nothing, though—lineup changes quickly followed, and Discharge, like other hardcore bands of the ’80s, fooled around with crossover speed metal before breaking up in 1987.
So if any classic first- or second-wave punk band deserved a well-received reunion, it was Discharge. These two new reissues capture some of the band’s peak moments since reforming in 2001. War Is Hell is a compilation of classic Discharge songs re-recorded in 2008 by the current lineup (Anthony “Rat” Martin has replaced original singer Cal Morris). It is a handy introduction to the band, which is still ferocious 30 years later. Add this to a copy of Hear Nothing and you have a pretty thorough overview of the band’s classic era.
Disensitise is a reissue of the band’s 2008 album. The metal leanings that marred Grave New World (1986) and Massacre Divine (1991) are gone now; Disensitise is pure crust hardcore, loose and a little sloppy, angry, and even more poorly recorded than Hear Nothing. There is nothing essential here for the casual fan—in Discharge’s mixed discography, it ranks higher than most but still well behind Hear Nothing—but Disensitise offers a welcome glimpse of an influential band finding its way back.