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Dystopia - Human = Garbage


by Matt Hensch

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Unearthing artifacts of a bygone era is always exhilarating. I'm not sure what it was that prompted me to check out a reissue compilation compiling Dystopia's "Human = Garbage" with a handful of the group's songs released before their infamous and often acclaimed EP. My initial research behind it had been more than interesting-vague, tenuous rumors claimed the EP contained stolen pictures from trash cans and textbooks, and that it was recorded a few hours after one of the band's members had been sprung from jail. Be it truth or horsesh*t, the mythology was enough to get me intrigued. I expected "Human = Garbage" to live up to its title, with plenty of misanthropy to go around.

I don't think that even scratches the surface of "Human = Garbage." Lyrics and effects are for most acts secondary, and not necessarily vital to their works, but this does not apply to Dystopia. "Human = Garbage" is unlike anything else, really; a perfect storm from which the group's constant bombardment of depressing imagery mixes faultlessly with the crust punk spine taking large cues from sludge metal and the occasional death metal touch. It's a simple release in context, taking the crust foundation and planting the dissonant, atonal seeds of sludge into soil reeking of dejection, with riffs that are as straightforward as they come. "Human = Garbage" certainly makes no attempt to test the limits of technicality; these tracks stick to moving in the candid motion of crust while walking in the down-tuned slime of sludge.

But this is a central chunk to the compilation's extraordinary aura, and certainly creates a product greater than the sum of its parts. The interaction between the three instruments-just a guitar, a bass, and a drum set-sets up each to make its own significant contribution to the collective. Enthralling bass lines are everywhere, not hiding underneath the direct, heavy-as-f*** riffs and the wide sample of percussion techniques and tempos. The vocals are split between shrill screams and growls, often used in conjunction without throwing everything to sh*t. Tracks predating the five cuts from "Human = Garbage" have a more prominent penchant for metal elements, especially those which frequent the death metal and grindcore subgenres. Blast beats show up from time to time, while the growls get lower and the guitar tone adds another layer of crisp to its sharp, violent bite.

I mentioned earlier that Dystopia's imagery is absolutely key. These lyrics-tales of hate, suicide, drug abuse, and crippling social issues-have a rare and fulfilling relationship with the band's instrumental affairs. The union with which Dystopia works serves "Human = Garbage" in an integral fashion in every respect. The tortured vocals and ultra-heavy base are perfect conduits for songs like "Stress Builds Character" and "Slaved Chains," whose measures of anguish are perfectly matched to the musical self-destruction at hand. Samples and narrative bits are frequent, and often far more unpleasant than the average addition shoehorned in for second-rate shock value. "Sanctity" is especially troubling, given how heavily based on samples from various media sources explicitly detailing stories of suicide it is, further augmented in its atmosphere by the palpable elements these added parts give to Dystopia's misanthropic poundings.

"Sanctity" is the full Dystopia experience, but "Sleep" is another excellent one-much more ethereal and atmospheric at times than the remaining songs. But each of the twelve pieces contaminating "Human = Garbage" is a statement in its own way-of nihilism, of hatred, of unbearable depression. This isn't something to listen to when the summer sun is hot on your head and life feels just peachy; this is for those days when anxiety and misery work their magic to give "Human = Garbage" its real form. Though not the most challenging or interesting work ever recorded, it's something I can't stop thinking about or listening to; a release I can't stop searching for the misanthropic secrets I know are lying in wait. I have seen some, but I know there are far more lurking beneath the surface of this enthralling work.

Dystopia - Human = Garbage
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