I love the bands I love with a goddamn passion. And though on this blog, I often gush about these groups in a collective sense within specific context, occasionally I want to take time to zero-in on just one. For a variety of reasons, the band I’m going to ramble about today is significant to me, in addition to just being great. That’s why I want to lift them up and let all you America-based readers know that they’ll be here soon and that you should get ready to mosh.
Guys, Government Flu is coming to America. This is the first Polish band in years to make the journey. If you take your hardcore fast, abrupt, and sans bullshit, you would be wise to pay attention to this. For two weeks, these Poles are going to spit 80s US Hardcore back into the face of the eastern seaboard and the midwest. Whether you catch them in the packed line-up of Damaged City Fest, in a club or a dirty-ass basement, you will not regret putting on your shoes and leaving the house that night.
Government Flu has, thus far made their home largely on Refuse Records. Hailing from that same European battlefield as the band, the label’s impresario-in-chief is a good, good friend of the author’s. He first brought them to my attention in 2010 in the wilds of Finland’s lake country with a couple of 7”s he expertly churned out in the label’s prolific fashion. This was the vinyl pressing of the excellent demo (a surprisingly promising first effort) and the curiously-titled Fuck Poetics ep.
“Time is precious cause it flies / we are useless cause we die”
The demo rips into it, where only 2 of 9 tracks top a minute, delivering with a punch not seen since another civic-minded band, Government Warning exploded out of Richmond VA. The ep continues with a likewise impressive blast of old school speed, mid-tempo moshes and a few good old-fashioned sing-alongs. Can it be considered stylistic progression because now more songs are over 60 seconds than under? There’s even a few Ginn-esque guitar squeals. The anthemic “I Can’t Be Positive” lays it down bare. The posi-core-minded chief of Refuse Records clutches the sides of his furrowed forehead.
Twenty-ten’s Are You Sorry Now? marks the band’s first lp. Another solid Polish label, Nikt Nic Nie Wie pressed this 14-song rager. At this point Government Flu have clearly staked out their space. In other words, the formula has been set…mostly. The lp’s out-of-step closer “Sleep” is 2 and a half mins of the closest this band will ever come to a dirge. It’s not really a sign of things to come – but it’s a nice-studio experiment with a tempo shift that makes me want to bang my fuckin’ head. Aside from that, one can expect the pep of the previous output. Ralf’s vocals match the spastic drumming beat for beat like some kind of sick parlor trick. Mosh parts permeate, but songs are not built around them as if requisite of how hardcore goes. But they don’t shy away from a powerful mosh. Believe you me. It’s goddamn great.
“It’s getting dark! Close your eyes! Clench your fists! Fight the night!”
-Till The Dawn
The follow up, the Like Letters ep is more of the same, stated in the best terms possible. 5 thrashers on side A / 4 USHC covers on the flip. I would find it easy to criticize a full ep side of covers if they weren’t so well executed. How could I turn my nose up at songs I love being played with perfect precision? Gang Green, Antidote, Necros, Void. Side A’s opener is a diatribe against 7:00 am. I love it! I can relate because I generally hate 7:00 am as well. 6:00 am also sucks hard.
“It’s so dreadful that rays of sunlight can’t put the nightmares out of my sight.”
Refuse and Nikt Nic Nie Wie bundled all of the aforementioned eps into an lp-sized singles going steady. If you don’t want to hunt the individuals, grab this and thank me later. The cover art for this release is so good, they made accompanying t-shirts out of it.
Clearly not resting on their laurels, last year saw a split and a single. The split with Chicago’s Poison Planet. Each respective issuance offers no hint of the band slowing down. They just keep getting better. I’m serious. The Government Poison split is probably their best release to date. I’m not sure how they did it, but even while keeping with the same stripped down HC for years, they’ve still managed to continue improving upon the model.
“I’ve got so many friends these days / I respect each of them…If they were real / If I was sane”
-All For One
If I could contribute one solitary criticism, it’s that their songs are so fucking great that I often wish they weren’t so goddamn short. Well, on the Holes ep, they stretch out and explore their musical space a little; meaning each number cracks a minute and the guitars feel a bit heavier in the mix. Some kinda’ Hardcore pursits might scoffs at these details, like they’ve suddenly entered Captain Beefheart prog-rock territory. What bullshit. The two originals and Polish punk cover are just as fresh and powerful as the opening notes of that 2008 demo.
That brings us full circle to my original point: Government Flu is playing a town near you. Go mosh. It’s up to you of course, but don’t you have enough regret in your life already? Trust me on this one.
“Playing fast, playing loud / saying what we’re not allowed / Being true to oneself / Playing gigs in every place”
DC/Philly/NYC/New Brunz/Boston/Burlington/Rochester/Buffalo/Pittsburgh/Motor City/Chicago/Indy/Nashville/Raleigh/Richmond