This Is Hardcore: Discharge – Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing
Gallows guitarist Lags picks his essential hardcore and punk releases – every Thursday on TeamRock.
1977 was the year punk reared its ugly head, spitting and swearing it’s way into mainstream culture and changing the face of music forever. Discharge, a five-piece from Stoke-on-Trent, adopted the sound emanating from London and found themselves supporting big names like The Clash and The Damned whenever their tours passed through their hometown.
As the ’70s came to an end the landscape of UK punk rock had already changed. Different musical genres, such as post-punk, new wave and hardcore, were emerging from the now fractured scene bringing with it an influx of new bands. Meanwhile, in deepest Staffordshire, Discharge were already making some changes of their own. Former roadie, Kelvin 'Cal' Morris, was now fronting the band and they were growing into a far heavier beast.
Discharge’s first full-length release in 1981 set the UK hardcore wheels in motion. Why? was as angry as it was primitive but it wasn’t until its 1982 follow-up, Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing that Discharge really discovered their destructive stride. The old sound of ’77 was now loaded with the kind of frantic drums and heavily distorted guitars reminiscent of Motörhead.
The 14 songs that make up Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing don’t stray from their stringent writing formula. The eight snare blasts that violently signal the start of the record give way to a cacophony of crashing drums and soupy guitars. Guitarist Anthony 'Bones' Roberts and bassist Royston 'Rainy' Wainwright play their thick punishing riffs with the amp gain turned all the way up. It’s repetitive and direct, striking the listener harder with every musical phrase.
Throughout the record, Gary Maloney’s breakneck drumming is unstoppable, a breathless attack of kick and snare leaving no breaks for rest. This pattern of playing spawned a style of punk known as D-beat, an unrelenting and extremely heavy form of anarcho-punk. Many of these D-beat bands would go as far as to adopt either the prefix or suffix of Discharge’s name as a homage to the British band’s legacy – Sweden’s Disfear for example.
The short vocal bursts of singer Cal Morris, as unintelligible as they may sound, are battle cries designed to incite action. Lyrically, the five-piece depict a world amidst full-blown nuclear warfare, an unsurprising theme given the political and military tension in the early ’80s. In A Hell On Earth, Cal foretells, “A glaring light, an unnatural tremor ... Men, women and children groaning in agony from the intolerable pains of their burns”. The stark, post-apocalyptic imagery that goes hand in hand with Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing resonates today in the artwork and merch designs of popular punk bands like Tragedy.
This fast and visceral form of punk heralded a new age of extreme music. From the brutal grind of Napalm Death to the stadium metal of Metallica, Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing acted as the rousing stimulant heavy music needed.
For more information on Discharge, visit their official Facebook page.