Integrity. Where do you start with that one? They’re both the band that couldn’t play the game, go major and keep on giving the fans the same. admittedly ace album, and they’re something that at this moment I most certainly am lacking in. I’m currently writing a page for a magazine filled with bad brand shoes (not quite Gola, because that would be a step too far), because a Submariner won’t buy itself. That my friends, is a lack of integrity on a grand scale. I like to think this blog, in a small way, might restore my karmic balance for the former monthly deed.
So I’m devoid of it today, but INTEGRITY still carry that heavyweight reputation as the most progressive of hardcore bands – opening minds since 1989 while much of the scene degenerated into a sound that’s not too far from Durst and company’s rap/rock dreck, the 7″ vinyl packages that carry the band’s name this last month are impressive – the UK’s own Thirty Days of Night records is taking orders for a split-band release themed after the kids’ book and record sets of old, with a new INTEGRITY and Rot In Hell track on record one, an 8-page hardback children’s book written and illustrated by the mighty Dwid Hellion and another record of the man himself narrating it. Again, like the Freeway Rhymesayers release last month, if you want to move me from MP3 right-clicking, that right there is the way to do it.
It doesn’t stop there either. Organized Crime Records just celebrated the 20th anniversary of Integrity’s debut ‘In Contrast Of Sin’ with a beautifully packaged reissue – clear vinyl with the option of an additional cover reinterpretation from the mind of Stephen Kasner, a genius artist in his own right, and the supplier of the incredible sleeve art for SUNN O)))’s ultra-intense ‘ØØ Void’ and its glorious drone. It isn’t the first limited reissue of the record, and it won’t be the last, but it is the most legit to date. There was something the water around the Cleveland area. There still is. In coming months, ‘Those Who Fear Tomorrow,’ ‘Systems Overload’ and ‘Seasons in the Size of Days’ get the same packaging, with download codes for those picking ’em up for the packaging rather than play.
Music seems to have a calculated viral marketed, music blogged lack of edge at this moment in time, and Dwid’s work still doesn’t file those edges away. Pitched between recluse and an accessible figurehead of the scene, active on eBay and on related messageboards, he’s a talented artist himself, and having steered himself from quasi-jock rocker to something altogether stranger and darker, there’s no way of pre-empting where he’s taking Holy Terror Records.
In its current form INTEGRITY and affiliated acts like VVegas cause me a glorious confusion, with their Holy Terror gospel of individualism at any cost, deifying the likes of Charles Manson, Anton LaVey, Jim Jones, Shoko Asahara and Robert Degrimston, whose Process Church of The Final Judgement has provided plenty of iconography and philosophy ties with my preoccupation with these oddball outsiders. As a kid I was obsessed with an aerial photograph of the Jonestown Massacre in a Reader’s Digest book my grandpa gave me. Yeah, I was an odd kid. I think Dwid probably was too. Videos like this are just disturbing – cult propaganda doesn’t get much bouncier than this:
I never was a fan of the Psywarfare side-project, but the imagery was pretty astounding – Dwid still sells patches of his oddball Holy Terror Church MANSONFISH design and Process Church logos on his site. In many ways, I suspect I’m an enemy of progress though – as with most things, I seem to be set on returning to 1995, where, during the ‘Systems Overload’ tour, Dwid was resplendent in Jordan 1 reissues from the previous year and the tie-in t-shirt used Champion as the base. in fact, on the INTEGRITY merchandise thread (one of the most merchandised indie acts in history?) on the B9 board, forum member Mike Apocalypse recalls,
“In 1995 INTEGRITY toured the U.S. for their “Systems Overload” record. When Dwid printed the shirts an error occurred. The shirts he used were Champion T-shirts and to get a fair price on them he had to got to a Champion outlet store. While picking up tons of T-shirts a XL muscle shirt, with a small tear in the back, found it’s way into one of the boxes by mistake. Dwid got back to the Den Of Iniquity and began to print shirts. When he got to the bottom of the box he spotted the muscle shirt. Not being one to waste things he printed it up, and tossed it in with the other shirts and then headed off on tour with the Melnick Bros, Frank 3Gun, and a fat dude. When GEHENNA played in Reno with them Dwid took notice of my impeccable sense of style and offered me the muscle shirt, and told me the story.”
Thank fuck for INTEGRITY. Rejecting prescribed notions of sXe before it became a tiresome, regimented plague, bringing the experimentation without compromising the powerchords, and still harnessing enough energy to make you feel like running amok. Best of all, I still don’t quite understand their point-of-view. That’s part of the charm. By the time I do, I’m sure Dwid and company will have moved on. That’s why they stay vital. Love Bunni Press has got some great Clevo HC resources, including the first interview they ever did, from 1988, where they seem exasperated with the state of the scene,
“Dwid –Let me say on the straight-edge tip, what I see it as, straight-edge was exploited, it was raped. It’s nothing now, it’s a joke, it’s a way to dress, it’s a haircut, and it’s a way to have generic beats.
A Double- I’ve seen bands where all they do is wear Champions and Nikes and are considered straight-edge.
Dwid – I’m ashamed to be straight-edge now. ”
There’s also an accompanying one from the following year where they express some Slayer and Cro-Mags admiration amongst the griping. Holy Terror’s got the albums up for download absolutely free. A lot of their contemporaries sound naive now, Judge excepted, but on a Judge-related tip, to quote Reinhold in ‘Fast Times…’ get acquainted with those MP3s – learn it, know it…live it.