Demerit – Bastards of the Nation – 8th August 2008

Cat #: 016TZM

Originally formed in Qingdao in 2004, Beijing-based Demerit are one of the more forward-thinking Chinese punk bands, and their latest album “Bastards of a Nation” (2008) shows them mimicking the direction of the newly popular third (or fourth or fifth or sixth) generation of the oi / “streepunk” genre in the US — diversified style and more complex song arrangements, but a return to the performing intensity of earlier hardcore and Oi movements of the early 80s. And, of course, a return to the 70’s UK punk uniform: leather G.B.H. jackets, dyed Mohawks, ripped t-shirts, bullet belts, bondage pants, etc. 

An earnest, anthemic, and hyper-political hardcore album, “Bastards of a Nation” is, on first listen, pretty much in the realm of the current representatives of hardcore to the masses in the US — A Global Threat, The Unseen, and The Casualties. Demerit keep it dense and heavy with metalish riff here and there, and break it up with melodic breaks, choral backing vocals, and even some clapping action in there (“Fight Your Apathy”). The arrangements were well-conceived and varied, and the musicianship is great — particularly the guitar work — and there’s some interesting changes in there. Throughout the album I had the feeling that the guitarist learned his stuff doing Iron Maiden licks and then switched up when the singer lent him a Choking Victim album. I enjoyed it overall, and bits and pieces reminded me of Leftover Crack, particularity “TZ Generation,” and “Fuck the Schemers.” Fans of that band’s many variations — INDK et. al. — and fans of the newer US east coast hardcore, won’t be disappointed. 

The song “Beijing is Not My Home” — my favourite song on the album — echoes the sentiments of displacement and marginalisation many bands feel living in Beijing (or so I hear) and is a really powerful answer to another punk band’s song “Come Down to Beijing” by Brain Failure. 

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