[aural time-slip] Swamp Terrorists – Grow – Speed – Injection

swamp_terrorists

[Reviewed by Peter Marks]

Here’s one you won’t be reading much about anytime soon, if ever. Preceded by a single for “Rebuff”, the second album from this Swiss duo dropped a couple months later and without doubt re-wrote the rule book as far as guitars and electronics were concerned. Those around me just couldn’t get enough of KMFDM, Ministry or NIN but they had no time for Ane H and STR. I suspect it was mainly due to how much better these two were at integrating so many opposing elements or maybe it was the sneaky little hip-hop influences which crept about their tracks. For me there was no equal -there still isn’t- in the realm of crossover industrial (coldwave here in the states) to what these boys managed to pull off.

You couldn’t escape those beats, the drums were a major selling point. STR, (who had cut his teeth in another band called Bande Berne Crematoire) was/is an absolute master at not only programming but also sampling. He somehow managed to blend these seamlessly with layer upon layer of horror movie dialog and guitars in a way you had to hear to believe. When I first met this record at a friend’s apartment it left me speechless, their previous album had been a collection of house and EBM beaten to a pulp but nothing like what they’d followed with.

A constant which remained would have been Ane H’s taunting and abrasive vocals. English may well have been his second language but he never embarrassed himself, one could happily sing(?) along to his words and strike terror into the minds of those around.

Of those who were around and heard, many chose to pass them over. Even with a domestic distribution deal through Noise records which led to this album being widely available it never was a big seller. This sort of reaction was my first inkling that mediocrity ruled. Why on Earth would a clearly superior product be so marginalized and unjustly maligned… no one else who was around then could get anywhere near the level of technical ability and sheer artistic vision on display.

If the band ever hoped to break through in the US market, this would have been their chance. But no, everyone was too busy listening to jesus build their hotrod or being godlike to care. Some of us did manage to garner these Terrorists a bit of club play which invariably degenerated into shoving matches on the floor; pretty boys just don’t like it when a pit breaks out and they’re admiring themselves in the mirror.

A quick perusal of the CD booklet showed our heroes to be rather unconventional, with STR militantly striking a pose at the top of the stairs while Ane lingered at the bottom of them like a derelict with his cigarette hoping to be run over. In their later years, they’d go absolutely nuts with singles and remixes -one plan never realized was STR’s concept of himself vs the world in a remix free for all- and their sound would indeed become much more diverse.

For being 25 years old, ‘Grow – Speed – Injection’ still kicks the shit out of just about anything you can throw at it. The only act out there who exceed the level of excellence you’ll find here (and all across their discography) are Hellsau, who were another project STR let loose without warning. But let’s not drift.

Precision was another hallmark to what they’d done, the metalheads I went to school with always loved to boast about the proficiency of those they listened to. Upon encountering what could be done with technology some of them changed their tune. Most resisted, however. For a techno kid like myself, there was just the right balance of genres to make everything not only palatable but also extremely difficult to put down. It is just such a shame that the style they innovated wound up being turned to shit a few years later by bumbling morons hoping to raise their profiles. Swamp Terrorists are unfortunately no longer around but with the body of work they amassed there is more than enough to keep your neurons busy the rest of your life.

From the design elements on their releases to the sometimes dangerously cynical liner notes and covers they always knew how to surprise, terrify and delight at exactly the right moment. All of this they did with a vengeance. You are gone but never forgotten, guys.

Now please excuse me, I gotta get my rhymes together.

Swamp TerroristsGrow – Speed – Injection
Machinery/Noise Records MA 9-2, MA 09-1, 0-3612-44848-4
CD/MC/LP 1991

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