Sunday 29 April 2012

Archive articles - Vegetarian Thrash Band Show Their Meat

Originally published by the now-defunct WiK English Edition, part of Poland’s reputed Wprost publishing house in September 2006. Sample from a regular, monthly column.

Alienacja: Vegetarian Thrash Band Show Their Meat

They sound like a mobile abattoir hurtling down a hill, yet they are all committed animal liberationists for whom relinquishing meat is a prerequisite for band membership. Alienacja, the hard-core/metal outfit from Plock, have been blasting out their churlish noise since 1997 and have become major players on the European thrash circuit.

Entering the world of hardcore, death metal or any other of their related sub-genres - which seem to proliferate without end - is a bewildering experience for the outsider, who might be forgiven for failing to discern much of a difference between any of them. Alienacja, for one, claim that their influences range from punk and grunge (so far, so good) to death and grind metal and ‘crust’ (whatever that might be). What it all amounts to is a fearful tirade of guitars, drums and growling, to which ‘moshing’ around like madmen in front of a stage seems the only sensible response. Listening to the stuff at home is almost certain to end with you receiving calming words from a loved one or police officer, telling you to put the axe back down.

Yet meeting the perpetrators of this aural violence is a disarming experience to say the least. Polite, softly-spoken and not a little earnest, Alienacja – not unlike other bands of their ilk – look and sound in person as if the sight of blood and guts would make them go all woozy. Indeed, the very notion that any sentient being should become culinary plaything of another is pure anathema to them, despite the fact that their music would seem ideal accompaniment to the blood-curdling cacophony of a slaughterhouse.

Alienacja’s recent crossover from the more linear din of hardcore/punk to the deafening plod of death metal makes them an even more intriguing band still. For adherents of the latter school are hardly renowned for their humane instincts, preferring a more consistent relationship between pumelling their instruments on stage and a misanthropic demeanour off it. Whilst, with hardcore/punk, screaming down a microphone to a backdrop of white noise has always been compatible – somehow – with peace, love and militant vegetarianism, death metal’s protagonists tend to look upon hate as a full time occupation. It’s a dichotomy Alienacja largely accept.

“Even though we grew up with the punk scene, we’ve always been in love with metal music,” said lead singer Hubert ‘Lipa’. “But you need more technical skills to play it. So whereas before we played simpler stuff, now we have found we can move onto something more complicated.

“It’s true that for the strictly metal bands they don’t really give a shit about animal liberation, but for the bands who mix it with other types of music, it’s quite normal.”

Back in the 1980s in the UK - when punk and metal were some way off finding common ground - commitment to animal liberationism was the preserve of the highly-politicised groups, who embraced the whole package of anarchism, feminism and the campaign for nuclear disarmament. These days, however, for bands like Alienacja – whose name nonetheless suggests less than total consent with what’s happening in the big wide world – politics with a big ‘P’ has less appeal than expressing general disenchantment with life itself. But when it comes to eating meat, the group draw a firm ideological line.

“One of the members of the band started to eat meat after ten years of giving it up and it caused an uncomfortable situation between us,” said ‘Lipa’. “Because we don’t want to play with people or have any strong connection with anyone who does that. Vegetarianism is very important for us.”

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