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Mission for Christ - The Complete Sessions

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Artist: Mission for Christ

Album: The Complete Sessions

Label: Ektro

Review date: Nov. 28, 2012

When it comes to 1980s D.C. hardcore and punk, if a record wasn’t crowned with the trademarked scrawl that is the Dischord Records stamp of approval, history has likely forgotten it existed (with the exception of Bad Brains, of course). Among the non-straight edge’rs, the goofball provocateurs in No Trend, a band of misfits who toiled around D.C. during the storied ‘80s, certainly lived up to its moniker, bucking myriad “trends” in their pursuit of the anti-genre, ricocheting cheese-ball funk, heinous art-punk, lounge singer camp and deliciously vile hardcore jaunts, thus alienating itself into the scene abyss -- presumably exactly there they wanted to be.

While the anti-social rascals in No Trend were more visible in the then-underground “public eye,” the likeminded delinquents and brothers-in-arms in D.C.’s Mission for Christ traversed more obscure terrain. In 1987, No Trend would find itself with a record on prominent indie imprint Touch & Go; Mission for Christ’s apex was recording a 7-inch single ultimately released by No Trend themselves via their own label.

Now, nearly three decades later — and barely registering as even a footnote in hardcore history over those subsequent years (save for a brief mention in Steven Blush’s American Hardcore opus) — Finnish-based label Ektro has pulled Mission for Christ from obscurity and finally their existence is recognized with The Complete Sessions, the definitive retrospective that documents the anti-scene they and No Trend meandered anonymously as Dischord was hoisted upon as the shit. And like No Trend, Mission for Christ’s membership was anonymous — there wasn’t anybody moonlighting in some radical Dischord hardcore group.

While Mission for Christ may have been railing against similar topics as Ian MacKaye and Co. and Cali’s Minutemen were (i.e. the Reagan regime), it went about it with an ostensible smirk (the first nine tracks here are collected from a demo cassette they called 2 Jews, A Black, A Woman and Cripple, a “slightly” offensive descriptor then-Secretary of the Interior James Watt used to label a bunch of government officials) and the music equals the dissent in abrasiveness and noise yet with a dose of cheekiness.

With its core members manning the helm (John Gibson and Dave Berman), Mission for Christ juggle D.C.-molded vicious lo-fi moshpit-raging class warfare hardcore (“Psycho;” “Smash the Rich;” “Poseur”) with beefy bass-bustling Public Image Ltd. Second Edition-copped serrated dub and reggae dance-floor groovage (“Pennies from Hell,” “Penny Dub”). The glorious low-end propelling “Blunt Instrument” snarls and gnarls in British post-punk, First Issue-like overdrive that predates MacKaye’s early Fugazi reggae-punk explorations.

The Complete Sessions is a valuable document of a loopy yet confrontational scene that was happening beyond the more “serious” scene that has been covered ad nauseam. It took a Finnish label (?!) to notice and bring this slice of hardcore history to the forefront? Well, good for them.

By Brad Cohan

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