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Crust punk
Stylistic origins Anarcho-punk
Extreme metal[1]
Hardcore punk[1]
Cultural origins Mid 1980s, England
Typical instruments Electric guitar - Bass - Drums - Vocals
Mainstream popularity Underground
Derivative forms Grindcore

Crust punk (often simply crust) is a form of music influenced by anarcho-punk, hardcore punk and extreme metal.[3] The style, which evolved in the mid-1980s in England, often has songs with dark and pessimistic lyrics that linger on political and social ills.

Crust is partly defined by its "bassy" and "dirty" sound. It is often played at a fast tempo with occasional slow sections. Vocals are usually guttural and may be growled or screamed. Crust punk takes cues from the anarcho-punk of Crass and Discharge,[3] the extreme metal of bands like Celtic Frost[3] and, in some of its more dissonant strains, subtle elements of post-punk via Killing Joke.[3][4] Crust punk has always remained a deeply underground form of music, although fans of the style are found worldwide. The early work of Doom, Amebix, Nausea, Antisect, and Hellbastard constitute prototypical crust punk.[3]




Crust punk is a derivative form of hardcore punk and anarcho-punk, mixed with metal riffs.[3] The tempos are often fast, but just short of thrashcore or grindcore, though many groups confine themselves to a crawling, sludgy pace. The overall musical sound has been described as being "stripped down."[5] Drumming is typically done at high speed, with D-beats sometimes being used.[2]

Vocals and lyrics

Vocals in crust punk are often shrieked or shouted, and may be shared between two or more vocalists. The lyrical content of crust punk tends to be bleak and nihilistic, yet politically engaged. Crust punk songs are often about nuclear war, militarism, animal rights, police, personal grievances and oppressive states and fascism. Amebix were also interested in various forms of mysticism and Gnosticism.[4]



The initial inspiration for the crust punk scene came from the anarcho-punk of Crass[3] and street punk of Discharge.[6] Swedish D-beat groups such as Anti Cimex and Mob 47 and the Finnish Rattus were also early influences.[7] Amebix also brought in influences from various post-punk bands, including Public Image Ltd., Bauhaus, Joy Division, and especially Killing Joke.[4]


Crust was founded by the bands Amebix[2][8] and Antisect,[3] in 1985, with the Arise LP and Out from the Void single, respectively. The term "crust" was coined by Hellbastard on their 1986 Ripper Crust demo.[3] Bands like Doom, Excrement of War, Electro Hippies and Extreme Noise Terror were some of the first bands to have the traditional UK "crust" sound.[3] Extreme Noise Terror eventually developed this style into grindcore.[6]

American crust punk began in New York City, also in the mid-'80s, with the work of Nausea. The group emerged from the Lower East Side squat scene and New York hardcore,[9] living with Roger Miret of Agnostic Front.[10] The early work of Neurosis, from San Francisco, also borrowed from Amebix, and inaugurated crust punk on the West Coast.[11][12] Disrupt (Boston),[13] Antischism (South Carolina), and Destroy (Minneapolis) were also significant U.S. crust groups.[3]


An important american crust punk band was Aus Rotten[14] from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Crust punk also flourished in Minneapolis, shepherded by the Profane Existence label.[7] In this period, the ethos of crust punk became particularly codified, with vegetarianism, feminism, and sometimes straight edge being prescribed by many of the figures in the scene.[7] The powerviolence scene associated with Slap-a-Ham Records was in close proximity to crust punk, particularly in the case of Man Is the Bastard and Dropdead.[15] Crust was also prominent in the American South, where Prank Records and CrimethInc. acted as focal points of the scene. The most well-known representative of Southern crust was His Hero Is Gone.[2][16] Prominent crust punk groups (Driller Killer, Totalitär, Skitsystem, Wolfbrigade, and Disfear) also emerged from Sweden, which had always had a strong D-beat scene. Many of these groups developed in parallel with the much more commercial Scandinavian death metal scene.[17]


Notable crust bands in the 2000s include Iskra,[18] Behind Enemy Lines[19], and Tragedy.[2]

Fusion with other genres


As Amebix was heavily influenced by Killing Joke,[3][4] who are among the founders of industrial rock,[20] crust punk has always had some relationship to this style. Nausea also eventually incorporated elements of industrial rock.[21]


Crust had a major impact on grindcore. The first grindcore, practiced by the British groups Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror emerged from the crust punk scene.[3] This style is dubbed "crustgrind."[6]

Thrashcore and powerviolence

The thrashcore and powerviolence genres which emerged from american hardcore punk are also linked to crust, in the cases of Man Is the Bastard, Dropdead[15] and Capitalist Casualties.

Black metal influences

Crust punk groups, such as Amebix, took some influence from the early black metal of Venom and Celtic Frost.[3] Similarly, Bathory was initially inspired by crust punk as well as metal.[22] Crust was affected by a second wave of influence in the 1990s, with some bands emphasizing these black metal elements. Iskra are probably the most obvious example of second wave black metal-influenced crust punk;[18] Iskra coined their own phrase "blackened crust" to describe this new style. The Japanese group Gallhammer also blend crust with black metal.[23] In addition, Norwegian band Darkthrone have incorporated crust punk traits in their more recent material. As Daniel Ekeroth put in in 2008,

In a very ironic paradox, black metal and crust punk have recently started to embrace one another. Members of Darkthrone and Satyricon have lately claimed that they love punk, while among crusties, black metal is the latest fashion. In fact, the latest album by crust punk band Skitsystem sounds very black metal--while the latest black metal opus by Darkthrone sounds very punk! This would have been unimaginable in the early 90's.[24]


Crust punk is a DIY-oriented branch of punk fashion. Similar to anarcho-punk, most clothing is black in color. Denim jackets and hooded sweatshirts with sewn-on patches, or vests covered in studs, spikes and band patches are characteristic element of crust punk fashion.[25] Baseball caps covered in patches are also common. Pleather is also popular, both for its durability and as a statement about animal rights. Dental floss is frequently used to sew fabric together, owing to its durability and ease of use. Crusties sometimes wear dreadlocks.[26]

Crust punk bands

Crust punk record labels

Further reading

  • Ekeroth, Daniel (2008). Swedish Death Metal. Bazillion Points Books. ISBN 978-0-9796163-1-0
  • Glasper, Ian (2004). Burning Britain: The History of UK Punk 1980-1984. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 1901447243
  • Glasper, Ian (2006). The Day the Country Died: A History of Anarcho Punk 1980 to 1984. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 1901447707
  • "In Grind We Crust," Terrorizer #181, March 2009, p. 46, 51.
  • Mudian, Albert (2000). Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore. Feral House. ISBN 193259504X
  • Profane Existence (1997). Making Punk a Threat Again: Profane Existence: Best Cuts 1989-1993. Loincloth. ASIN: B000J2M8GS

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b c d e Peter Jandreus, The Encyclopedia of Swedish Punk 1977-1987, Stockholm: Premium Publishing, 2008, p. 11.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Von Havoc, Felix (1984-01-01). "Rise of Crust". Profane Existence. Retrieved 2008-06-16.  
  4. ^ a b c d Glasper 2006. "Amebix." p. 198-201.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c "In Grind We Crust," p. 46.
  7. ^ a b c "In Grind We Crust," p. 51.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Init 5, September 25, 2007. [1] Access date: June 18, 2008.
  10. ^ John John Jesse interview, Hoard Magazine, June 2005. [2] Access date: June 18, 2008
  11. ^ Adam Louie, Mastodon, Neurosis show review, Prefix magazine, January 29, 2008 [3] Access date: June 18, 2008
  12. ^ Anthony Bartkewicz, Decibel Magazine No. 31, May 2007. [4] Access date: June 18, 2008
  13. ^ Nick Mangel, Disrupt LP review, Maximum Rock'n'Roll #301, June 2008, record reviews section.
  14. ^ "Crust-punks Behind Enemy Lines release One Nation Under The Iron Fist of God
  15. ^ a b "Powerviolence: The Dysfunctional Family of Bllleeeeaaauuurrrgghhh!!." Terrorizer no. 172. July 2008. p. 36-37.
  16. ^ Andrew Childers, "Kick in the South: A Look Back at Prank Records and the Southern Crust Scene." April 5, 2008. [5] Access date: June 21, 2008
  17. ^ Ekeroth, p. 107, 266.
  18. ^ a b Iskra Interviews.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2005). Rip it up and start again: Postpunk 1978-1984. London: Faber and Faber Limited, p. 435
  21. ^ "All through the 80’s I was very into bands and styles other than punk or metal like Killing Joke, Einstruzende Neubauten, Test Dept. ..." - Roy Mayorga, interview with Bela. [6] Access date: August 4, 2008.
  22. ^ Ekeroth, p. 27.
  23. ^ "Hard of Hearing", Terrorizer no. 171, June 2008, p. 56.
  24. ^ Ekeroth, p. 258.
  25. ^ Kevin Stewart-Panko, "I Saw Disfear Three Times in Three Days", Decibel, no. 46, August 2008, p. 22.
  26. ^ Hetherington, K. New Age Travellers, page 9. Cassell. 2000

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