North Carolina’s Catharsis are a seminal political hardcore band that was initially active from 1994 to 2002, before reforming in 2012. Since then, they have continued to tour in line with their DIY philosophy. Their recorded output has been brought together under two compilation LPs, Light From A Dead Star I & II, reissued by Refuse Records and the band’s own CrimethInc label.
‘Will you dare to break your chains, to feel life pounding in your veins, don’t settle for nothing, choose your heaven’.
Light From A Dead Star I brings together both the band’s first full-length, Samsara (1997), and their self-titled debut EP (1995). Musically, Catharsis are renowned for their ambitiously structured hardcore. Raspingly growled vocals interplay with fiercely intense metallic guitars, and a rhythm section that is as nuanced as it is brutal. This lays the foundations for the band’s exuberant inventiveness, ranging from the haunting opening of Invocation: One Minute Closer…To The Hour Of Your Death and the darkly menacing spoken word interludes amidst the unrestrained velocity of Exterminating Angel and Pariah, to the dramatically evocative nine-minute instrumental track (The Evolution Of Dying).
‘Subjugate our nightmares, bend them to their ends, And the offer to share the dividends? A place in the shadow of the great guillotine’.
Light From A Dead Star II encompasses the band’s second full-length, Passion (1999), together with the tracks from their split LP with Gehenna, Live In The Land Of The Dead (1998), and their split EP with Newborn, The Arsonist’s Prayer (2001). Ferocious, politically charged metallic hardcore continued to lay the groundwork for the band’s vibrantly eclectic explorations, from the rampantly infectious …Obsession to the slow-burn rage of Deserts Without Mirages and the cleansing fury of Unbowed. The band arguably reach their creative zenith on their final recorded song, The Arsonist’s Payer. This near ten-minute exposition draws on literary inspirations from Octavio Paz to George Orwell, T.S Elliot to Robert Frost to create a lyrically sophisticated, yet consciously utopian call to action.
Thematically, the band explore, through often overtly apocalyptic, darkly allusive imagery, the deadening and debasing impact of capitalist exploitation / expropriation on society, while seeking to explore alternatives through their own anarchist belief system. The band is cognisant that there is an inherent idealism to their expressions of this worldview: ‘This is a statement of purpose, and all such statements oversimplify…but the important thing is to speak…let’s live to tread on kings, to break our bodies and our hearts to keep ahead of death, to dance right through our lives’.