Creation. Sustenance. Destruction. is a document encompassing the discography of highly influential hardcore/metal act 108, and could honestly not be released at a more relevant, sensible time. At a time when many perceives America as a country sputtering and choking in the stranglehold of Christianity, it appears that this may even extend to a little scene otherwise persistently labeled as 'punk,' therefore raising the question: Can religion and punk rock mix? It's quite obvious from certain events this past summer that we've seen both the 'yes' and 'no' opposing sides. While 108 will insist the foundation their beliefs lie upon is not religion, nor a philosophy for that matter, but rather true self expressed in sound, founding guitarist Vic DiCara was known for his deep study of Hinduism and related schools of thought, a trait that clearly found its way into the band's general expression -- even musically at times. While Hinduism itself is often questioned as such, more often that not it's regarded a major world religion. Still, the question begs itself: Will this also raise a dispute of sorts?
As 108 was a band often hit with heavy criticism in their respective hardcore scene despite a friend in DiCara's previous act, Shelter, who shared similar beliefs (though even less veiled), that answer would have to be yes. Nonetheless, the East Coast outfit was one adamantly strong in their beliefs themselves, conveying their intense schools of thought through equally intense, noisy shifts. While taking influence at the spot of their formation from the recently formed alternative metal duo of often-paired Helmet and Quicksand, as well as the dominant youth crew scene of the late 1980s, 108 would go on to visibly influence a legion of followers themselves, from Earth Crisis to Glassjaw to the Hope Conspiracy to American Nightmare. Both heavy and convincing, Creation. Sustenance. Destruction. contains 2 discs, both separated for all too obvious reasons.
The band's earlier material makes up Disc 2. On 1994's Holyname and 1995's Songs of Separation, the stylings feel much more like hardcore with strong alternative metal leanings. It also seems as though the band was still finding their sound; on top of that, the band proves to be noticeably preachy. Undeniably proud of the education they've received from Krishna, references are most prominent here. The key term here is "mid-tempo," as that's often the only cylinder on which the band chooses to fire. A riff in "Solitary" seems to harken back to `80s heavy metal, while others like "Thorn" are tedious. "Govinda - Viahena" wanders in strange, crawling atmospheres. 2 tracks here contain straight Hindu (?) chants: "10.8" and "Tulsai's Song," interesting sidesteps the band takes. The band is at their best when they pick up the pace, with short bursts like "Noonenomore" or the slightly faster, more alive 55-second "Shun the Mask;" "I Am Alive" hints at what's to come later in the band's career, while the urgent "Holyname" is a better reflection of what the band is capable of. The good tracks are here; they're just in need of a solid mining amongst the slower, more monotonous makeup of the rest of the disc.
108 however reached their apex later on. Shorter, faster, and louder, Disc 1 showcases this later stuff, 1996's dual releases and Lost & Found Records pieces Threefold Misery and Curse of Instinct, and has half of many songs -- therefore, it's also much easier to take in one sitting. The band delivers straight-up hardcore here with a metallic flair, with crushing, pounding and equally eerie, screeching riffs, menacing drum beats and a form of varied intensity propelling multiple stop-starts, pauses offered merely for listeners to catch a breath. Here is the band at their best, pulling the listener in with their efforts and greater nod towards punk rock. Newest bassist, Trivikarma / Tim Cohen brought equal bouts of aggression and creativity to the songwriting, and that's likely the songs take so many well-founded jumps between distortion-laced, squealing guitar and dirty, angular rhythms. Tracks like "Invocation" and "Blood" define pulverizing, while the masterpiece of "When Death Closes Your Eyes" provides the major standout in its earth-shattering breakdowns, absolute desperation in the verses and manic conclusion. "Scandal" had to be a favorite of Daryl Palumbo's back in the day, specifically the wavering delivery of the lines "you punish your own self, with the fists of your own, of your own ignorance." "Serve and Defy" is nearly reflective in its slower crossection, with pulsating bass riffs splashed throughout. Closer "Panic" has a rather apt title. Lyrically, the band is more subtle here as well, writing about their beliefs in more relatable, easily grasped ways. A few blatant moments are apparent, like the Hare Krishna chant of the soulful reggae takeout in "Being or Body."
In all likelihood, Creation. Sustenance. Destruction. is not meant to be consumed in one meal. Over an hour and a half of music is available here, with, as mentioned above, its best offerings in the early goings. With Disc 2 the listener may get tired with the more sludgy, one-note bashings that march on throughout, though its strange sidesteps certainly keep attention focused. The packaging is certainly appealing: commentary on nearly every song from the band is included in the sprawling liner notes, placed aside multiple live shots in a strong, black and white dependent bundle. With the band reunited and recording new songs, all the while certain metalcore acts convey whole different forms of faith themselves, the look back is an appropriate one. For those both wishing to revisit the 108 legacy in one convenient package or even merely get an introduction to such, it's hard to go wrong with Creation. Sustenance. Destruction..
Curse of Instinct