If you grew up in the 80’s and loved speed metal and hardcore, the 90’s were a very difficult time. The defiant, adrenalized, over-the-top spectacle of Venom, Raven and Celtic Frost had given way to a new, dour, quasi-Hitlerian distortion of what we used to call Black Metal. The supersonic bludgeoning of a garbage society by Dead Kennedys, Cromags and Millions of Dead Cops had given way to horrid goofy-go-lucky California mall-punk.
In a desperate attempt to locate something fresh and interesting in the realm of fast and heavy, one was forced to turn to an erstwhile awful American DIY punk scene that was occurring in the crappy basements and mortifying photocopied zines of the early 90’s.
What this underground scene lacked in production values and good music, it made up for in sweeping, militant rejections of the music industry and the mainstream culture it served. I liked that a lot. Bands like Born Against, Spitboy, Los Crudos, Downcast, Life But How to Live It and Drop Dead were the lo-fi royalty of a DIY kingdom ultimately destined — by design really — to implode.
In the midst of the subsequent, inevitable and barely-registering implosion, came Mens Recovery Project. What at first appeared to be a jokey side-project from the former vocalist/ subcultural icon (Sam McPheeters) of Born Against, turned out to be an absurdist noise experiment that lasted a decade.
Well, for some people it lasted a decade. For me, it lasted one 7” (I’m a head-banger. There’s only so much precocious/ clever i can take before visions of flying-dropkicks dance in my head). But what a 7” it was! Somewhat akin to The Residents — but seen through the lens of an intravenous DMT experience perhaps — this recording managed to sum up, in its entirety, the existential dread of life on earth living in this minimum-security gulag we call Western Society.
I leave you with the lyrics to their closing number, a track called “Enjoy Life”:
work hard, show promise, make friends, establish trust, fall in love, man a vehicle, make a baby, win approval, concentrate, try & succeed, drink some juice, avoid disease, get ahead, take a vacation, enjoy your home, raise your children, eat some food, get exercise, enjoy your life, your alibi.