There’s plenty of scope for poking fun at Extreme Noise Terror. For starters, there’s the ridiculous name. Was the band 12 when they dreamed that up? And what about the “songs” they play- often, they don’t even hit the minute mark. And what the hell is actually going on in the music? Everyone seems to play really, really fast, but it all seems like the same note.
You can’t make fun of Extreme Noise Terror’s intentions though. Extreme Noise Terror is all about anger- anger at the state of the world, at politicians, at consumerism, at the music industry, at animal exploitation. Whether you agree with the band’s point of view or not, their dedication to their causes is beyond question. Extreme Noise Terror’s anger is too much for just one man to express, so the band has always had two vocalists, producing a sound unique in the early UK grindcore scene.
1980s grindcore is often hard to come by because the movement was so far underground as to almost pop out the other side of the planet in China. Luckily, Extreme Noise Terror recorded three sessions, in 1987, 1988 and 1990, for John Peel’s radio show, offering the band a chance to record in a good studio.
The untrained ear hears little but white noise and shouting, but once you become accustomed to the band’s style, it is possible to identify riffs and song structures, even if they are quite rudimentary. However, even with a lyric sheet, both vocalists are still nigh on incomprehensible. One spits forth a throat shredding gargle, while the other is a deep growl from the depths of the underworld. The lyrics are highly political, or critical of the incestuous grindcore/hardcore scene the band was a part of, but really, the vocalists are two more instruments in the band, their emanations more vocal riffs than singing.
The anti-meat song “Murder” is one of Extreme Noise Terror’s signature tunes. The version here has even more venom than the studio original. It is possible to make out a few of the words to the song, but it pretty much expresses the view that Extreme Noise Terror aren’t going to be visiting McDonald’s any time soon. The two new versions of “Only In It For The Music” differ little from the original, but that really doesn’t matter, because the song is a total blur anyway.
The real oddity on this album is the cover of the Cockney Rejects’ “I’m Not A Fool”, renamed “I’m A Bloody Fool”. Musically, the song is quite recognisable and faithful, although infinitely heavier, and the vocals are almost understandable. Almost…
Even though the sessions were recorded over a three year period, there is little difference in quality or musical ability in any of them. You could accuse Extreme Noise Terror of standing still, considering the levels of progress contemporaries like Carcass and Napalm Death made over the same period, but it would be more accurate to say these guys stuck to their guns. Unlike the aforementioned bands, there was not even the slightest hint of incorporating death metal into Extreme Noise Terror’s repertoire.
At the end of the day, you’re either going to get it, or Extreme Noise Terror is going to leave you cold. This collection is a valuable historical artifact from Extreme Music’s past. The late John Peel should be congratulated for having the foresight to preserve it.