Emo Violence In Action
—font size=”+2” face=verdana, geneva color=#663399>“I
hope you find something on this disc you like. To be honest, I have trouble listening to it all the way through in one sitting.”
—Chris Bickel, In/Humanity vocalist and songwriter.
So goes the liner notes to In/Humanity’s 42-track compilation, Violent Resignation. Having listened to the disc myself, I can only concur with that sentiment. The music of this band is beyond brutal. This is about as hardcore and raging as any punk rock could get without turning into sheer white noise. But there is also a satirical humor that runs rampant through these songs as well. A lot of people probably won’t get that, but it’s just as well as that only fuels the In/Humanity legend.
Formed in 1992 by lyricist/singer/artist Chris Bickel and guitarist Paul Swanson, In/Humanity set out on a rampaging course of loud punk rock that ran its course over the length of two LPs (The Nutty Antichrist and The History Behind the Mystery) and 10 singles. During that time, Bickel coined the term “emo violence” which he originally took from the ‘80s Cameo album Emotional Violence. Chris shortened it and applied it to the sound of In/Humanity’s music. Sometime thereafter, such publications as Maximum Rock And Roll picked up the term and began applying it to various rock groups left and right. What they didn’t know was that the term was just a joke all along.
I had a recent talk with Chris and asked him just what In/Humanity was all about. He told me that the band rarely gave interviews while they were around, and preferred that the audience draw its own conclusions. So indeed, we must let the music speak for itself. If anything, the music speaks volumes, so loud and punishing it is that your friends will probably be scrambling for the front door within only a matter of seconds. Chris’s personal favorites on the collection are “Teenage Suicide Do It!” and “The Execution of Clive”. But one could pretty much select a track at random and be hit with the same blast of sonic fury that those two songs contain. Take your pick from “No Thanks, Mr. Roboto”, “Kill It”, “Portion of 130 Faces”, “Too Drunk to Molotov”, or any of the others. You’ll get the idea in no time at all.
Chris’s vocals are distorted beyond recognition, so it’s good that a lyric sheet comes intact. If you choose not to listen to the disc, the lyrics themselves provide plenty of amusement. On top of that, you also get a sampling of Chris’s own artwork that adorns many of the CD booklet’s pages. The musicianship is just as chaotic with Swanson’s guitar thrashing away at whatever comes in its path. It’s not melodic, it’s not pretty, it’s not tuneful. It’s just furious. The rest of the band was often comprised of whomever Bickel and Swanson wanted to invite in to play with them at the time.
Violent Resignation is one of those albums that the few will cherish and the masses will find infuriating. It wasn’t recorded for just anyone, though. A strong set of ears and a bit of patience are definitely required when listening. That is not to say that it’s not worth listening to. For within this look back at one of South Carolina’s loudest groups, there is a wealth of wit and information that should not be missed. And for those who are interested in learning more about Chris and his musical world, look no further than hometown.aol.com/anakrid/mypage.html for a complete rundown on just what emo violence really is, as well as Chris’s current musical and artistic projects. Long live the noise.