Spanish HC Assault In The 1980’s
In the late 1980’s, I was fortunate enough to be record trading pen pals with the guitarist (Tomas) of HC band Ultimo Gobierno, who hailed from Burgos, a city in northern Spain. He was a fanatic for NYHC records and in exchange he would send me dozens of righteous platters from the thriving Spanish HC and Punk scene. I dug the more melodic mid-tempo “Punk Iberico” and bands from the Basque region, but my true passion was the ultra fast, pile-driving Hardcore that owed a debt to USHC and some of the more manic Italian and Scandinavian bands filtered through a unique Spanish perspective.
Here’s a highly biased and subjective list of my favorites from that era, undoubtedly others would come up with a totally different list but for my money; these are the bands I’ve always associated with that furious Spain styled HC assault. These are just the tip of the iceberg, there are tons more from those days as well as present day outfits carrying on this glorious sound. Check out these righteous Spanish labels/distros for the best of the old and new:
Here’s a rousing “Vale Tio!” to my old pen pal Juan, wherever he may be.
Barcelona legends and one of the first bands in Spain to draw influences from American HC outfits like Minor Threat/7 Seconds, with members of early HC bands from that city like the late, great Frenopaticss. A delayed influx of musical imports due to the repressive political situation in the early ’80s made USHC records hard to get, but once they managed to slip in, bands like the Subterranean Kids ran with it and made that sound their own. If their records had come out in ’82 as opposed to ’86/’86, their output would be heralded on the same level as those classic Dischord/Touch & Go platters. They’re still actively playing these days. I recommend all their material, especially the top notch demo and first 2 Lp’s. Here’s a great intro to their 80’s material:
Ultimo Gobierno/Ruido De Rabia
My aforementioned pen pal Juan sent me his band’s, Ultimo Gobierno (UG), split Lp from 1987. The UG side is full of short, catchy tunes heavily influenced by Discharge/Anti-Cimex, a sound that can be labeled as “D-beat” HC, years before that name/subgenre was on anyone’s radar. I also corresponded with the singer for Ruido De Rabia and their material on this split Lp is cut from a different cloth. Attempting to push the speed barrier for that time, they succeeded in creating a blend of Larm/Extreme Noise Terror ultra fast tempos tempered by an “Outsider HC” sensibility that rivals out there bands like Psycho Sin in the “noise for noise’s sake” department. Both bands went on to subsequent releases, but for me, this is their defining document that stands the test of time.
My all time favorite HC 7″ from Spain is the “Estoy Tan Contento” 1985 ep put out by Barcelona’s GRB, whose name is an acronym for a restaurant association from that city or a breakfast sandwich concoction, depending on who you ask. GRB was started by veterans of classic Spanish Punk bands Ultimo Resorte and Frenopaticss. The twin guitar attack allowed GRB to up the ante as far as speed and musical chops required to pull off the stop on a dime, furious pace that rivals some of the best Italian bands like CCM or Negazione in their prime. Eschewing the overtly political diatribes of the day, they chose to present lyrical themes in a personal fashion reminiscent of DC bands like Rites Of Spring/Embrace. Their Lp from ’87 (Cuentos y Leyendas) is a masterpiece of HC/Metal/Rock influences that unfortunately no one outside of their circle heard back then; do yourself a favor and look it up online, as well as their killer ’85 demo. Here’s to the magnificent ‘Guevos Revueltos con Bacon’!
I first heard RIP on BCT’s seminal “Spanish HC” compilation tape. At this point in time, they’re hugely popular, their name immediately coming up whenever anyone mentions anything related to this country and HC/Punk. This is well deserved, as they took the anthemic Clash/Pistols sound, sped it up (but not too fast!) and laid some catchy as hell melodic choruses on top, plus lyrical concerns that touched on their Basque homeland’s ambivalent place in Spanish society. Unfortunately, 3/4ths of the band members that played on their one and only Lp from 1987 have sadly passed away, but not before inspiring several generations of Spanish-speaking HC/Punk practitioners, like their contemporaries in Eskorbuto, another band in from the musical movement they both belonged to known as Basque Rock Radical.
One of the quintessential Spanish HC bands that formed in ’81 as an Oi! band called Odio social, but didn’t get around to releasing a proper record until ’86. By that time they’d assimilated the best of American and Italian HC influences, fusing it as means to express their own unique set of circumstances, as exemplified by their choice to sing and change their name to the spelling of their native Catalan tongue, a distinct Latin-based language wholly separate from the official Spanish language. Their classic Que Pagui Pujol 7” shows leather-clad Punks hopping over a train turnstile on the cover, a nod to civil disobedience in their home city of Barcelona and by extension, the rest of the country. A 1990 12” reissue added songs recorded at the same ’86 session. There’s a great book from a couple of years ago documenting the Barcelona 80’s HC scene that used the name of this record, check out their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/paguipujol
Prototypical HC band from Zaragoza, in the northeastern part of the country. An equally split band between the sexes, they formed in ’81 and lasted until ’88 without putting out any proper vinyl releases, only a couple of demo tapes. They also appeared in ‘Spanish HC’ comp tape, which is where I first heard them and it led me to seek out their blazing ’84 demo. This demo really got around worldwide, showcasing their raw politically-driven HC, like a potent mix of BGK and Crucifix. Their tune “Sucio Policia” off that demo became an underground hit. I’ve heard several Latin American bands cover it throughout their years. Fortunately, all their demos/live and practice material has been reissued, here’s a great release up for download: https://bazofiarecords1.bandcamp.com/album/iv-reich-1000-a-os-de-anarqu-avol-1-1981-1985-lp-12-bzf-027-lp
Ultra fast power trio whose name translates to “flour made out of human bones.” They formed in ’85 and quickly went from a Scandinavian D-Beat sound to becoming Spain answer to DRI in the speed category. Their first ep from ’86 always reminded of Sweden’s great Mob 47 and their 1990 Lp pushed the direct, no frills, straightforward HC to it’s maximum potential, so much so that MRR magazine famously wrote, when reviewing said Lp, that “I’ve seen God…and he’s Spanish!”
No list of Spanish bands would be complete without including the legendary Ultimo Resorte. I first heard them on the seminal BCT compilation tape from 1984, titled, fittingly enough, “Spanish HC.” Starting out as a straightforward Punk band in 1979, it’s interesting to note the progression of their earlier mid-tempo ’77 Punk-influenced tunes and their metamorphosis to a harder, faster Dead Kennedys/Bad Brains sound as the 80’s rolled around. They had in vocalist, Sylvia, one of the best HC screamers ever and one can hear the rest of the band (on their 7″ & subsequent mini-Lp) progressing to an American Hardcore template without sacrificing any of the regional flavor that made them special in the first place.
The first band Spain to play what would become known as D-beat, starting out as Slips & Sperma in 1980. By ’83, they had changed their name to MG-15 but kept the heavy Discharge influence in sound/visuals and lyrical outlook. One of the heaviest bands in Spain at that time, they had to seek out a foreign record label to put out their classic Derecho A La Vida ep from 1984. Their second single from ’88 took a more metal direction, parallel to what Discharge was undergoing at that time. They succeeded in putting out material throughout the years, even managing to record a split ep with their heroes in 2006. I always dug their ’83 demo that was finally reissued on vinyl in ’03 as the Caos Final ep – enjoy it here in it’s entirety.
I remember hearing a badly dubbed copy of Eizen’s ’86 demo a couple of years after it came out and was always impressed with the raw, primitive vibe rivaling some of the noisy Japanese or Finnish groups from that period (they do a rousing Terveet Kadet cover on the demo). Eizen was a short lived band from the Basque region, coming from early HC oufits Autodefensa and Tortura Sistematika, and after Eizen’s break up, a couple of them started Ruido De Rabia. They would have remained an interesting footnote to the history of Spanish HC until a 1985 rehearsal tape was pressed onto a 7” in 2012. This release is even rawer than the demo I’m familiar with, all adding to the (justly deserved) lure of the cult of Eizen. This is my favorite tune off that ’86 demo:
Freddy Alva is a NYC based writer of Peruvian descent. His writing has appeared in Noisey/Vice, No Echo, Cvlt Nation, In Effect Webzine and various print publications.
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