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Alpinist – “Lichtlærm/Minus.Mensch” Review

Alpinist - "Lichtlærm/Minus.Mensch"

Alpinist – “Lichtlærm/Minus.Mensch” (Southern Lord Recordings, 2011)

Hardcore and metal have been described as “outsider music for outsiders.” As you might expect given these philosophical similarities, both genres have influenced each other since the early 1980s. But the influence has been pretty one sided in the favor of metal, although hardcore bequeathed its tempos to metal to create thrash metal. For example, many hardcore aggregations have migrated to metal once they outgrew the (relatively) narrow confines of the genre. Bands who made that transition include Corrosion of Conformity and DRI to name just two. Very few bands have absorbed lesson from metal and used it to play punk. In fact, the best practitioners – Discharge and G.B.H. – were associated with one label: Clay Records.

That is until recently. These mighty bands have inspired a new generation of kids and led to the creation of an entire new subgenre of punk: Crust. Although they don’t sound like Discharge, these bands have been influenced by metal but brought this influence into a particularly punk and hardcore setting. It is not thrash metal, not by a long shot. Instead crust bands play a particular brand of metallic hardcore, if you will.

For example, take the band, Alpinist, a four piece from Munster, Germany. Their name refers to a person who practices a particular form of mountaineering. An alpinist scales the tops of the world quickly (because they carry fewer supplies) and without oxygen unlike Everest-style expeditions. In other words, an alpinist is a old school, ethical and heroic mountaineer. And, in the interest of carrying less, Southern Lord took the band’s first two long players – Minus.Mench (2009) and Lichtlærm (2010) – and combined them into a single, limited edition CD. Only 2000 copies were pressed.

What do you need to know about Alpinist? The bass player has a sledgehammer of a distortion pedal and he’s not afraid to use it; the guitar player likes down tuned riffs with octaves in them; the drummer provides the foundation of heavy punk rock action; and, the singer sounds like a ghost screaming at the living world.

The main characteristic of Lichtlærm/Minus.Mensch, though, is fury – furious in tone, furious in texture and furious in energy. They rage against “fascism, racism, sexism and homophobia” and, if you have a problem with that, they say simply, “Don’t listen to our music.”

Intrigued? Then check this out:

Alpinist – “Neverest”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwVBa3ilKIk

Did you hear the Black Metal influence mixed in with the rest of Alpinist’s heaviness? Where? The typical, high-pitched, spectral or wraith-like vocals. But then again I must admit at times the vocals remind me of Chris Doherty of Gang Green on the This Is Boston Not L.A. compilation (“I Got Rabies,” “Kill A Commie” and other classics). You can also hear a Black Metal-influenced tremolo picking on the guitar tracks on songs like “Neverest” and “Project Fatigue.”

The most interesting aspect of Lichtlærm/Minus.Mensch is how Alpinist take aspects of punk, hardcore and metal and transform it into their own raging manifesto. Get it before all 2000 copies are gone.