Filthy Christians – Mean (1990)


April 13th 2014 – Swedish grindcore pioneers

Filthy Christians – Mean

Earache ‎– MOSH 17 – 1990 – LP – Green vinyl

Image to the left: The legendary Never Healed flexi by Heresy, brutal stuff.

The first time I encountered proto-grindcore was through Nottingham’s Heresy. In 1986 they released the Never Healed flexi and a lot of these flexis were sold in Sweden. I believe it was Fredda Holmgren that imported and distributed them. Even though this article is not about him, his influence Swedish hardcore and metal should not be underestimated. The is the man behind Asocial zine, Chickenbrain Records and Startracks among other.

After such an awesome experience with the noisy and ultra-fast Heresy I quickly got my hands on the first Ripcord flexi and the records of the Dutch band Lärm (got to love that name) and shortly I realized that Earache records put out a lot of brutal stuff. I was lucky since the local record store sold all Earache releases. Even though there where fast bands out there like Wermacht they defining moment was Napalm Death’s album Scum. It’s the third release (MOSH 3) on Earache. The first Earache release was a re-issue by Accüsed followed by a split with Heresy and Concrete Sox (the later actually debuted on COR Records with the Your Turn Next LP). Scum sounded like nothing else, and for a kid hooked on “the faster the better-bug” it was just awesome. And compared to the silly speed metal Napalm Death had lyrics that interested at least me. Most of my friends went bananas over the Scum album as it was for sure the most brutal time around at the time. Talking about grindcore releases on Earache, I got to make a point that my favorite release is MOSH 16 – Terrorizer - World Downfall, a record I still play on a monthly basis.

Image to the left: Filthy Christians around the release of the album “Mean”.

So what about the Swedish grindcore scene? Well, Sweden had a good soil for extreme music as it had over the years been fertilized by brutal hardcore acts like Anti-Cimex, Rövsvett, Mob 47 and Asocial. In the mid-80′s Mob 47 and Asocial did the best job in the “fastest band championship”. Also Raped Teenagers played fast, but were honestly not as brutal. I would say that the first real proto-grindcore band was the hilarious Protes Bengt. This band was a combo of Åke and Chrille from Mob 47 and Per Thunell and Ola of the Falun band Filthy Christians. It is said that the EP In Bengt We Trust was originally a 75 song recording (all songs was made directly in the studio without in rehearsals before) and 32 of them was cut on the EP. To truss the message this is fast the record was released on Röj (Mayhem) Records. I don’t know who the Bengt-dude is and why he got a prosthesis (Protes, but assume there is a really funny story about it. Set aside the side project Protes Bengt, Filthy Christians together with Jönköping / Huskvarna pride G-anx were the pioneers of Swedish grindcore. Here is Sweden is was much later called grindcore, we just called it “Mangel” in the same way we called hardcore “Råpunk”, two words I still promote in the Swedish language.

Image to the left: Young Per Thunell doing his best screaming his lungs out.

Filthy Christians origin from Falun, Sweden (1985). Per Thunell on vox, Ola Strålin on drums, Daniel Hammare on guitar and Gregor Bennstrøm on bass. Together they put out the split with G-anx in 1988. Later Patrick Forsberg was added on guitar making it a five-piece band. Filthy Christians started out as a hardcore act but evidently had a blooded tooth for playing fast. After a few brutal demos the band hit a small European tour and played in the UK. In some way they ran into Digby Pearson (the Earache director) who was impressed by them. An additional demo was recorded and send to the Earache headquarter resulting in a record deal. To my understanding it took more than 18 month to have the record released as it came out in 1990. Never the less, Filthy Christians was the first Swedish band to be released on Earache as Mean was released as MOSH 17. Next Swedish band was the mighty Entombed debut album “Left Hand Path which was released with catalogue code MOSH 21 the same year.

Gig poster for the Filthy Christians and Napalm Death show at Rockborgen, Fagersta at 19 November 1988.

In the zine interviews I found with Filthy Christians; Banan issue 5 1986 and an interview Profit Blaskan issue 4 1986 with Per as he was in Protes Bengt. The common topic is the urge of playing faster and faster. Interesting the influences mentioned by Per was Mob 47, Lärm and Heresy. In the late 80′s parts of the Swedish punks and young metal heads got a taste for fast brutal music. Interesting this coincide with another important event which happened in Fagersta, not too far from Falun actually. In this little steel town Peter “Babs” Ahlqvist started as a zine editor of Uproar zine (I think also he did Ayataollah zine together with Fredrik Brickman) which developed into a record label. Among many achievements Uproar released the first Crude SS record and the Hardcore for the Masses compilation. Not doing that he and some more dudes got involved in the local music club “Tid är Musik” and set-up gigs at Rockborgen (not to be confused with Rockborgen in Borås). 1987 – 1990 was awesome years at that place and a kid you did all possible mistakes. Like going to see Sodom, Sepultura and Merciless and not getting inside because too much alcohol consumption. And believe me, you got to be severely drunk to not be let in. Well that was in October 1989 so but we were in better shape a year before for the November 1989 gig with Napalm Death was playing supported by Filthy Christians and another band. I thought it was the Nyköping thrashers Mezzrow but writing the article I realize there were two other bands playing; Fagersta’s local thrash “heroes” Kazjurol and Midas Touch a thrash act from Uppsala. The later headed by Patrik Wirén, later in Misery Loves Co and more recently author of the book on Refused. No recollection of those bands however. What I remembered was that Filthy Christians was at this time the most brutal thing around Sweden only in competition with G-anx and Strängnäs’ death-thrashers Merciless. On this night they were fast like hell. A pleasure to see. This show was by they way part of a small Scandinavian tour that Filthy Christians did together with Napalm Death. Anyhow – - every visit to Rockborgen in Fagersta involved a train trip on which a lot of beers were consumed. But for Napalm Death, I and my pal were focused seeing the band and applied a more conservative alcohol policy securing not missing the gig. Short review: Napalm Death ruled, they blew us away. Being young, none of us had a plan how to get how get home in this freezing late autumn / early winter night. It was quickly resolved by consuming vast amount of cheap cherry-wine and smashing the window of a Volvo station wagon to find a place to sleep until the early 5 o’clock train could take us back to our hometown with a frozen smile on our lips. Awesome days, hope they never come back. So Babs if you are out there, thanks for Filthy Christians, Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, Anti-Cimex, Krunch and all other bands you gave me an opportunity to see. And technical thanks for Death and shitload of band I did not see due to intoxication. I can never complain I got a fair chance to see them.

But this is a post about Filthy Christians’ debut album Mean. It’s not an attempt to make an review. What I could wish for however is a better production, the sound is a little messy not giving Filthy Christinans a fair sound picture. And of course there is a tribute to Mob 47 as they cover ♬ Dom Ljuger (MP3 320 kbps). Awesome!!! More strange is that the first track is a Donna Summers cover. The band possible found is funny but I guess most buyers of the records just found it weird. As a taste for the record I have chosen ♬ Extremely Bad Breath (MP3 320 kbps) which also ended up on the Earache Grind crusher compilation. This record comes either on black vinyl or green vinyl. I have understood by talking to Per that the green vinyl is a limited edition for the Swedish market.

So what’s happened after the album? It seems like the members struggled to find sufficient with time between the band, military services and studies. Some members formed BombKlan and Per Thunell started to put out records with Bruce Banner some 10 years after Mean was released. He is today in the Japcore sounding band Sex Dwarf that put out an EP in 2013 and it is said they will put out an album in the summer of 2014. Great stuff, check it out.

And some final words on the records mentioned above for you collector-scums. A complete release of the Heresy flexi should contain an insert and a sticker. The first press of Napalm Death’s “Scum” have a yellow/lime sleeve. It has a black and white insert. The first pressing of Terrorizer – “World Downfall” have red / orange lettering on the front sleeve and it have a printed innner sleeve and is on standard weight vinyl. The first G-anx / Filthy Christians split are on pink vinyl. That’s all collector-scum details for now.

Click on the images to expand them to higher resolution. The rips and images are from my record.


Sleeve



Inner sleeve



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2 comments

  1. Rolf Revålt

  2. the editor

    Killer

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