Blast From the Past: Anti-Justice's Self-Titled EP
Chances are you never heard about Anti-Justice and while I'd love to follow where alcohol leads and promote my coolness over you; I will not - not out of some "professionalism" or because I've been edified and tempered by age. No, I will not laud myself over you because Anti-Justice holds a very special place in my heart. This was a band my high-school buddies were in, a band I could see rehearse after school and watch "perform" at somebody's house over the weekend. Though I'd seen plenty of garage bands and ska-punk outfits via a friend's older brother in Caracas years prior, this is the first time I understood what the fucking deal was about.
Anti-Justice, in the version that existed for the recording of this EP was comprised by my friends Tim Den and Robert Cleves. You might know them as Tim Den, the guy who used to run a music website that gave Pitchfork a run for their money (Transform Online) and Robert Cleves, editor and provocateur behind Mulch Fanzine. True to the DIY spirit and ethos, they recorded this EP themselves utilizing some of the most suspect four-tracks and cable rigs ever seen in South Florida with Rob on bass and Tim doing triple duties on vocals, guitar and drums.
The result is a catastrophic mess of blistering hardcore metal that only high school kids could come up with. But there is something honest and raw in it that can't be denied and that through their existence became more polished and professional (which we'll discuss within these pages in the future) but that for the seventeen-odd minutes these five tracks hold were (still are) magical.
Watching these guys do it is what gave me the balls to join/form bands and become unafraid of the stage [note, I "sang" in various outfits that I may or may not touch upon here at some point... but let's face it, I write about music and I know the old phrase about those who can and those who can't, so feel free to remind me] and moreover, become involved with my local music scene. This was it. This shit was the tits!
Opener "Possessed Souls" is a maniacal military cadence of blast beats and early death metal influenced string work with gruffly howled vocals. The energy doubles with the start-off bass-line of "Maljudgment" where the duo exercise a little more restraint in lieu of harmony and groove, letting the aggression dictate the path. "Suffer" is the obvious mid-piece track and it flirts with softer elements and an almost stoner rock treatment at moments but is still heavy on the anger; pissed-of teens in the end, right?
"Anti-Justice" is a sign of things to come in subsequent releases with jazzy guitar doing the intro before muddy blasts of hi-hats and muted snare compete with the vocals for maddening desperation before the closer, "Edify Mortality" showcases fundamentals of Scandinavian metal and has some nice compositional attributes and breaks. Being the longest track on the EP, it's also the most technical. Enlightened listeners might find the EP rife with "mistakes" and naïveté, but again, these are the reasons why this cassette tape originally struck a chord: we can do it, we're gonna do it and here, it is done!
I don't remember exactly how I got the tape, but I'm pretty sure that Tim made me pay for it since by this time in the early 90's he had already achieved the fame within our circle of friends of selling us egg rolls for a buck fifty that he probably "appropriated" on the five-finger-deal from the restaurant where he worked, but regardless, I got the tape and I still have it. Maybe you saw it on the consignment shelves at the Yesterday & Today Records store on Red Road and Bird Road, maybe you bought it at a house show, maybe Tim gave it to you for free.
Regardless of which, the love this outfit stirred in me for local music continues to grow almost twenty years later and the boys of Anti-Justice have come a long way. I'll discuss their follow-ups Infidel Sect, Forward and The New Reward in the future.
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