• Crust
  • Sacred Heart of Crust EP (Trance Syndicate) 1990 
  • Crust (Trance Syndicate) 1991 
  • Crusty Love (Trance Syndicate) 1994 

Gleefully depicting the life of deviants and incompetents, Austin’s Crust explores dementia with sound in the great tradition of Black Sabbath (depression), Black Flag (psychosis) and the Butthole Surfers (schizophrenia). Sacred Heart of Crust offers convoluted industrial Mexican dirges like “Tiny Shoes” and the screaming short-wave radio funk of “Black Tuesday.”

The trio’s buzz seems as varied as whatever pills they choke down, and the self-titled album gnaws away at claustrophobic dialogues on such topics as roadside crime, public institutions and sexually transmitted disease. Eschewing the sacrilegious bent of the EP (also bundled onto the album’s CD), the band portrays life on the skids with insight in first-person accounts like “Head Lice” and “Diet Tray.” In sonic synch with friends/patrons the Butthole Surfers, Crust’s music is a grandiose sonata of harnessed chaos, using distorted voices, droning bass and various noisemakers (electric door springs, toolbox, car springs) that perennially seem on the verge of breaking down.

Crust really gets going on Crusty Love, where the trio (Jerry Page, Richard Smith and John Hawkins) reveals an ability to cultivate anxiety more artfully. Uncomfortable anthems like “Chlamydia Is Not a Flower” are ridiculous and frightening, continually surpassing expectations of their own awfulness. Without losing its delusional down-and-out scariness, the music has real force, comparable to Alice Donut and Cop Shoot Cop but infinitely more disturbing.

[Ian Christe]