Tuesday, January 13, 2009
For the past few months I had kept in touch with Iggy (former Abnegation vocalist) about the prospect of releasing a discography CD for this highly under-appreciated band from the mid-90s. With neither side looking to make any sort of financial gain from the theoretical release, the only thing that could potentially prevent it from happening would be someone outside of the conversation owning both the original DAT tapes and the copyrights to said tapes. Regretfully, however, this is the case in this specific scenario.
Rewinding a few years back to when I had a bit more faith in and enthusiasm for the 'core, I was the furthest thing from an Abnegation fan. I was staunch in my stance against bands who no longer embodied the beliefs in which they held for the duration of the project. I felt as though the "selling out" process cheapened the dedication of bands like Earth Crisis who are, to my knowledge, the only vegan straight edge band who has remained "true" even seven years after their initial break-up. I've since learned to take things to heart slightly less and have developed an appreciation for bands who stood for whatever it was they stood for, if only for the handful of years in which they were active.
While I am in no way comparing the brief tenure of conviction held by bands such as Abnegation to that of a band such as Earth Crisis, I'm merely illustrating the appreciation one can hold for the moment in time in which these bands managed to spark some sort of emotion into lives of those who were lucky enough to be there. I am sure there is, at the very least, one person who is still vegan or straight edge to this day due to the lyrics and/or speeches conveyed by this band. In my eyes, this fact makes the band legitimate regardless of whatever paths the members have taken since the dissolution of the band.
That being said, I always thought Abnegation sucked musically up until about two years ago. This can be contributed 100% to the fact that the only release I had from the band was the Verses Of The Bleeding full length released on Good Life Recordings in 1997. We'll cover this issue later in the post, but for now, we're going to go back in time a bit.
Starting in Erie, PA in 1993, Abnegation self-released their demo entitled Life For A Life. Ardently illustrating their militancy on issues such as abortion and animal rights, blatant lyrics were put into effect from the very beginning of the band. The first track on their 1994 follow-up 7" (Extinguish The Sickness) only further emphasized their pro-life stance with the title Birthright. Starting the song off with a soundclip of a beating heart and ending with a repeating chant of "the fetus is a life", there were no question as to where the band stood on the issue of abortion. Oh yeah, the 7" came out on Militant Records.
Amidst much controversy (as was normal for the time), the band lined up two releases for 1995; the first being the In The Eye Of The Storm 7" on Enigmatic Records. Featuring two new songs alongside a re-recorded and re-vamped version of the song In The Eye Of The Storm (which previously appeared on the Extinguish The Sickness 7"), the new release followed along the path of controversy in which the band was essentially paving. Later in the same year, Catalyst Records released the Jihad 7", which was commonly referred to as being self-titled due to the lack of the album title on the cover. Once again featuring two new songs, the b-side to the 7" featured the a-side to the previously released 7" of the same year. I'm not too sure why, possibly because the pressing of the Catalyst release was double that of what Enigmatic Records could offer.
Looking back, the release of the song Hopes Of Harmony on the Stones To Mark A Fire compilation is really the only way Abnegation could have topped themselves after the release of the preceding 7"s. Put together in 1995 as a benefit CD for Rod Coronado, the release also included unreleased tracks from Earth Crisis and Hatebreed amongst many other notables from the era. Hopes Of Harmony was rivaled on the comp only by The Order That Shall Be by Earth Crisis. The intensity of the song can be seen here as the first of three tracks recorded at the legendary Cleveland Fest in 1996.
1996 would mark the final year for the original incarnation of Abnegation. Nearly simulataneously releasing the As The Stone Strikes The Cedar demo cassette alongside the split 7" with Pittsburgh, PA's Chapter, Abnegation's original line-up went out with more than a bang. The split with Chapter is without question the best release from Michigan's +/- Records. Over 2000 copies were pressed and the release is still sought after by those "in the know". Two songs from the As The Stone Strikes The Cedar sessions were put onto the Lake Effect Scene Report compilation. I have included the CD rips of those two songs while only having a low quality cassette rip of the third track, Chalice Of Gaia. I have had good luck thusfar through this blog of receiving Mp3s that I have requested in return for my efforts of posting what I do ... hopefully the tradition will continue in this post.
Not long after the release of this demo and split in 1996, main composer and lead guitarist Paul left the band to pursue the formation of a new project entitled Creation Is Crucifixion in Pittsburgh, PA. Several shows were performed as a four-piece before the departure of vocalist Iggy. Rhythm guitarist Nate Black would also soon quit to pursue other projects (including xDisciplex and Run Devil Run). Remaining members Chris Leonard (on drums) and Dave Steele (on bass) decided to recruit local guitarist Doug Corey in order to keep the band functioning as a three-piece. The second incarnation of the band forged ahead to release the much-anticipated full length record on Good Life Recordings. Many people were disappointed with the release due to the new sound and relinquishment of political stances once held by the band. The group disbanded not long afterwards and the project has lay dormant (sans one reunion show in 2003) ever since.
Normally whenever I do an upload thread, I will include everything I have by a band and allow the listener to decide for oneself as to what releases are worth their time. This is not the case, however, this time around. The final full length was flat out atrocious and I'm not going to subject anyone to the pain that is listening to this album. As stated earlier in the post, it was this album (and its ease of availabilty in comparison to the 7"s) that kept me from appreciating this band for however many years. I promise you that its nothing more than uninspired, rehashed, third-tier "metal" placed alongside several re-recordings of old classics. My blood is boiling at the mere thought of the album.
All of this being said, I'm glad that I've allowed myself to appreciate bands such as Abnegation for the influence that they contributed to the hardcore scene in years past, regardless of its length in tenure.