Wednesday, 7 May 2014
The Mad Are Sane "Reality" Lp 2007
If you have never heard The Mad Are Sane, today is your lucky day. In fact, assuming you are into old British anarchopunk, and you'd better be, you might very well be the luckiest punk alive. When I got this geezer, put it for the first time on the turntable and listened to the first song, I was literally flabbergasted, gobsmacked, floored.
The first minute of "World in action" is of an epiphanic nature. The martial guitar sound with just the one chord, the heaviest tribal drumming you have heard and then comes the voice. The singer must have swallowed a box of nails just before the recording session. It feels like he is talking directly to you, full of spite, anger and outrage. Rarely have I heard such aggressive, threatening vocals in the anarcho scene. With their pounding rhythms, the songs sound like the world is on the verge of terminal insanity (anyone using that expression for a new blog will be sued. Thank you for your cooperation). Or maybe they sound like The Mad Are sane are about to jump at your throat, crucify you at the entrance of their squat and then proceed to dance all night around you, utterly oblivious to your moans.
Yes, this record is that bloody good. "Reality" was initially a demo, recorded in 1983, that was released on vinyl in 2007. To be honest, I ordered that one for two reasons: first, I buy pretty much any reissue, be it a good or a mediocre one, from any old anarcho band, be it a good or an average one (I would type "mediocre" but I subjectively can't); second, I vaguely remembered The Mad Are Sane from a Mortarhate compilation, 1984's "Who? What? Why? When? Where?". But I certainly did not expect it to be that fucking brilliant. That's what I love about punk-rock, when you think you know it all and feel jaded, there's always one band you've never heard of that you will remind you that it is a never-ending spring of greatness. Long live dead punk bands!
If I were to describe The Mad Are Sane, I would say that it really reminds me of Exit-Stance (one of the most underrated bands of the anarcho scene) in the bass-driven heaviness, the pounding relentlessness of the tribal drumming, the simple efficiency of the riffs and the feeling of outrage pervading all the songs. But The Mad Are Sane may even be better. To add some catchiness to the rather martial nature of their sonic intensity, you will notice some tuneful guitar tunes here and there, just to show you that, indeed, the band actually spent some time and thoughts writing these wondrous songs. I already mentioned the nail-eating male singer, but in addition there was also a female one, with a very pissed off, shouting voice, not so far vocally from early Sacrilege or Solvent Abuse. Basically you have two top notch vocals. This demo would have been the ultimate anarcho grail if the singers had been working in the trade-off style rather than the "you do one song and I'll do the next one" style. So basically, you have four songs with the bloke and three with the girl. It still is amazing, but punk-rock is sometimes like tag-team wrestling: a good spectacular move involving the two wrestlers of the team can be more effective.
Like Exit-Stance, and like most of the Mortarhate roster really, The Mad Are Sane seemed to have been heavily into animal rights, as two songs, "Animal crimes" and "Waiting for the day", deal directly with that topic. "World in action" is about the destruction of the environment, "Tract" is about violence that pervades society, "Dying church" is an anti-religious piece and "Neither seen nor heard" is about the business of backstreet abortion. In fact, that song is a little disturbing as it could also be read as an anti-abortion song, but since that seems highly unlikely given the context of the band, I am assuming it is not. I do hope I am not wrong here. I mean, pro-life anarchopunk does sound unlikely. I almost decided not to post this record because of that last song. Could this come from this fringe of the animal rights movement that is against abortion because they feel it is wrong to harm a life? This theory seems far-fetched, given the members were spiky-haired 16 year old anarchopunks...
From what I understood, this early line-up of The Mad Are Sane didn't exist for very long and the band only played but a handful of gigs. There was a second demo recorded in 1985 with a very different line-up including members of Self-Abuse (both bands were from Bournemouth) and Confession of Sin. That second demo is by no means a bad effort but certainly pales in comparison with the scorcher that is "Reality". The Lp can still be found quite easily and it was released on Abused Records, a label that only released records from Self-Abuse apart from this one (I'm assuming it is also run by a Self-Abuse member).