Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Discharge - Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing

Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing

Released 1982 on Clay
Reviewed by Fitter Stoke, 24/03/2010ce

Make up a song with one severe barre chord, thrashed out at breakneck pace with only an occasional foray up two or three frets to add any harmonic variety. Shout, at the top of your voice, two hastily-penned lines of anti-war rhetoric - twice. With a bass guitar, play the ugliest and vilest growling sound ever to be emitted from a musical instrument to start and halve the song, adding a completely atonal and manic bottleneck guitar solo for good measure. Then, after a minute and a half, bring the whole unrelenting racket to a sudden stop. Serve.

You've just cooked up a song - if that's the appropriate word - called 'The Final Bloodbath'. And if I've given the impression of a simplistic, lazy creative process, I've misled you. Minimalistic? Maybe, but there's nothing lazy or half-hearted about this or any of the other thirteen aural cannonballs that make up 'Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing'. That vile bass growl referred to earlier is the perfect encapsulation of oozing, congealing blood pouring from a bayonetted artery. The screamed, tuneless vocal and searing high-fretted bottleneck guitar solo evoke abject madness and panic: the relentless one-chord riff representing the post-H bomb catastrophe around which the whole apocalyptic scene is set. Welcome to the post-nuclear world of Discharge, and their first full-length album, of which 'The Final Bloodbath' is only the third track.

The other songs, like those that made up the band's five previous EP's, follow the same basic pattern of riff 1/line 1 - riff 2/line 2 (chorus), repeated three times with a brief solo in the middle, excepting the ridiculous and wonderful uni-riffed 'Free Speech For The Dumb' (later covered by Discharge disciples Metallica, by the way). And you know what? That's all they need. The predominant subject of holocaust - suitably illustrated on the gatefold sleeve with juxtaposed photos of sunbathing beauties and a burned corpse on a mortuary slab - is perfectly rendered by these short, sharp, rifftastic bomb blasts. Check out the searingly intense opening riff of 'The Nightmare Continues' for example, or the terrifying second one of 'Cries Of Help', which is as violent and excruciating as anything described in vocalist Cal's painfully graphic lyrics. Or try the way the band take a soundtracked announcer's comment that "The blast wave from a thermal nuclear explosion has been likened to the slamming of an enormous door slamming in the depths of Hell" straight into their patented and petrifying explosion of noise - achieving nothing less than a total re-enactment of the appalling scene of mayhem just described in the process. This, discerning reader, is pure ART, created by four leather-jacketted punks from Stoke on Trent with a guitar, a bass, a microphone and a set of drums, emerging from a centrifuge of Motorhead, Sabbath and The Ramones with a radical genre all of their own. And, like that epochal first Brudders' album, all within the space of twenty-odd minutes.

Only 'Protest And Survive' comes anywhere near to offering relief from the never ending barrage of speed and noise, and then only because it's (ever so slightly) slower of tempo. In every other respect it's business as usual - albeit with possibly the best riff on the album, and man, has it some competition there.

To cap it all, the album is superbly produced and engineered (especially on vinyl), filling the room with an irresistible - and insanely addictive - total noise. I've never heard any record since with the same blend of savage rawness and sheer clout as this. And 'Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing' hasn't dated a minute in nearly three decades. It's the peak achievement of a true punk band caught at the height of their invention and craft before falling into the murkier waters of heavy metal - from which, I'm happy to add, they've since re-emerged.

The influence of Discharge upon the incumbent thrash metal scene has already been mentioned in these pages, and one listen to their first proper album is all you'll need to hear exactly why the likes of Slayer, Anthrax and Metallica looked upon these still-unsung heroes with awe. I've yet to hear it bettered.

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