The year is 2020 and there are a lot of records, modern classics and overlooked gems which are clawing their way out of their teenage years and into full fledged ‘Sonic Adulthood’ (for lack of a better term).
As a group of people who are passionate about hardcore and the subculture that surrounds it, it seems only fitting that a first retrospective look is about one best records to have come out of the European hardcore scene. This isn’t a full length but it is still masterpiece. It is raw and aggressive and embodies the feelings and emotions of its members during the time period. It may be slept on by some people who aren’t aware of Kickback, but that doesn’t mean that it is any less culturally significant or a landmark for metallic hardcore, let alone European.
Kickback’s cultural significance easily noted within the modern scape, whether that be in discourse surrounding the genre or a new local band covering one of their songs in order to get people excited and moving at a show.
Kickback came to being in the early 90’s in Paris, originally formed by Stephen Bessac, Fabrice Fortin and Patrick Vandewalle. As many bands do, Kickback underwent numerous lineup changes until Bessac was the only remaining original member. Known for being a band that never shirked it’s negative public image, Bessac and his bandmates embraced vitriol and disgust from those involved in the subculture and spun it back into building up their following and became one of the biggest European hardcore acts up until their split in 2013. Much like their New York counterparts Billy Club Sandwich, Irate and Merauder, Kickback successfully managed to motivate and nurture their local scene in Paris and put European hardcore on the global radar. Unless you were there at the time, it is hard to really say what the lasting local legacy that Kickback have left behind, all that can be done in that regard from an outsiders perspective is merely talk about the legacy it has left on the modern day hardcore scene.
Les 150 Passions Meurtrières, Kickback’s sixth release and the follow up to 1997’s ‘Forever War’ is the focus of this piece. The six track EP stands at 25:48 seconds long, and features some of the best songs Kickback ever released, including favourites such as ‘Ruining The Show’ which features a verse rapped in french by Parisian rapper, Profecy. Originally released in 2000 by Hostile Records, the EP and band has seen a resurgence within the last couple of years, this owing to a new wave a kids becoming part of the subculture and discovering these older European acts, who have either long since finished or entered a ‘bucket list band’ status like Arkangel.
When looking to review this record retrospectively, the first thing that can be noted is the production has stood the test of time (when listening to the version available on Spotify and other streaming platforms. The mix is that typical of hardcore production, there is nothing too flashy or polished about it, but it serves the music and delivers the sound well. The second thing that can be noted is the wave of bands that have drawn influence from Kickback in the modern era, including Blistered (RIP), Trapped Under Ice, King Nine and the UK’s Stranded (RIP). Although whilst saying this Kickback have been compared to American acts such as Billy Club Sandwich, Everybody Gets Hurt, Merauder, All Out War and Fury Of Five.
The record itself features all the classic tropes which fans of the above mentioned acts are familiar with. Chunky guitar riffs, mosh parts and musical aggression, all of which are synonymous with metallic inspired hardcore are found in these six tracks. Stephen Bessac, an outspoken and divisive character, delivers his trademark painfully forced vocal style which has become a standard amongst many modern hardcore acts. Whilst the track ‘Murder Minded’ features Baldur Vildmurdarson of Arkangel lending his recognisable vocal to the song.
If 1995’s ‘Cornered’ was Kickback bringing themselves kicking and screaming into the wider global hardcore landscape and 1997’s ‘Forever War’ was their visceral and aggressive second full length, then Les 150 Passions Meurtrières is kickback cementing their legacy as one of the best metallic hardcore acts of the last 25 years. The cultural impact of this band and record speaks for itself, with people spending obscene amounts of money on original and bootleg t-shirts and first pressings of their records.
Hopefully younger heads and new kids will still be listening to Kickback and this record in another 10 years time, it is unlikely that won’t happen as the constant refresh of younger heads will continue to discover this excellent band.
“The Meaning Of Pain” (Demo – 1991)
“No One Gets Out Alive” (Demo – 1992)
“Untitled Demo (Demo – 1993)
“Forever War” (1997)
“Les 150 Passions Meurtrière” (EP – 2000)
“No Surrender” (2009)
“Et Le Diable Rit Avec Nous” (2011)
“Kickback – Vomir (Split – 2013)
Article by Jack Beale – Burchell