Unrelated to Vancouver’s D.O.A.-related Subhumans, these lower-income types from England’s Southwest corner were one of the original UK hardcore bands, carving a distinct niche directly between Pistol-punk and the subsequent iconoclastic thrash of Rudimentary Peni. Borrowing the aggression, belligerent tunefulness, social conscience and sneering vocal atonality of the former, they magnified each by a factor of three, releasing a series of increasingly impressive 7-inches (later gathered as EP-LP), culminating in The Day the Country Died, a deliciously dated quasi-classic of second-generation British punk.
Assiduously documenting their career with self-released and shoddily recorded live cassettes, the Subhumans’ next “professional” release was the eight-song, 45 rpm Time Flies. Pointedly poking and stretching in odd directions, alternating moody doubletracked vocals or solo piano accompaniment with driving live numbers, it was a more than appropriate intro to Cradle — possibly the first post-hardcore opera. Somewhat akin to the Pretty Things’ epic SF Sorrow but pared down and compressed to a single unbroken side, the increased variegation in the music (while fascinating on LP) signalled an inevitable disunion, rendering Worlds Apart a sardonic title for their last full-length outing. The Subhumans’ most diverse LP interpolates echoic post-punk, pseudo-reggae, rote rock and ruttish roll. Split Vision offers their final eight tracks, actually recorded after the breakup.
Vocalist Dick Lukas formed Culture Shock, sounding in every way like the Subhumans, but with less angry verve and considerably more of a ska/reggae bias. That band’s bassist then rejoined the Subhumans drummer and — after a false start — guitarist, with Lukas helming the resultant Citizen Fish.