Caustic Defiance / Negative Element - Split (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Caustic Defiance / Negative Element

Split (2009)


Japanese label Akashic Records ensures that Americans receive a tidy document of one particular sect of early `80s hardcore with this release. Caustic Defiance and Negative Element were two products of the Midwest in the early 1980s and converted their desolation and adolescent rage into tight, scratchy hardcore punk songs that, while fitting in well with the sound of the time, is nonetheless a raw, unrefined and yet enjoyable piece of work.

Peoria, IL's Caustic Defiance provide the first baker's dozen of cuts here. All were tracked in 1983 and all blast by in a flurry of bare-bones riffs and flailed drum fills, from the catchy, rambled chorus of "Controlled Aggression" to the angsty "I Could Kill You" ("Well, I think you're pretty...Yeah, pretty shitty!"). Vocalist Brad Krohn's raspy, almost quickly-spoken take seems to lean closer to Milo Aukerman than John Brannon. Their last song, however, "Don't Let It Die" is a slower, hopeful number, bringing the speed of the previous dozen to a quick halt, but for a wistful finish all the same.

Negative Element is the slightly elder band on this split, as Caustic Defiance formed from their ashes. Essentially a sloppier and jokier version of the sound that would be fleshed out and better thought out in Caustic Defiance, their side's interesting though a little less listenable. Tracks like "Anti-PacMan" and "What Ever Happened to Elmer Fudd?" get on a goofy plane and never look back. "Just Be Yourself" is just messy and snotty, though more promise shown in the accelerated "Police Beat (On Me)" and the tempo change-ups in "No Way Out." "Pay the Lord" is a natural reaction to the band's conservative Christian community they sprouted from.

Clocking in at just under a half-hour, this is an interesting look into two bands whose songs probably would have gone largely unnoticed otherwise. Granted, they probably still will, but at least these will be pushed to a new audience hungry for the style's origins.

Caustic Defiance - Controlled Aggression
Caustic Defiance - Who Are You?

Caustic Defiance - Tell Me Why
Caustic Defiance - Caustic Defiance
Negative Element - National Socialism
Negative Element - Anti-PacMan
Negative Element - What Happened to Elmer Fudd?
Negative Element - Temples of Corruption
Negative Element - No Way Out