Members: Anthony Realbuto, Lawrence Susi, John Troy, Jon Boucher
By the late 1990s, hardcore had gotten weird. Really weird. A
subculture rooted in nonconformity had morphed into just another
target market. In a scene where distinctiveness and individuality
were once kings, uniformity somehow found itself as heir apparent:
Let's all sound the same, dress the same, and listen to the same ten
bands. In the midst of all this muck and mire, CRUSADE was born.
Lawrence Susi was no stranger to this artistic ghetto, having played
bass with New York Hardcore stalwarts Breakdown and co-founding the
critically lauded Sub Zero. Crusade was formed, Susi cryptically
recalls, "as a reaction to what was going on." As to exactly what was
going on, he's not saying, but there is nothing that is the least bit
opaque about his reaction, as the band's recordings and live show
A recent performance showcased a slew of new material, some recorded,
some as-of-yet uncommitted to tape. The band opened with "Church And
State", and its lines "Where've you been, You know it's nice to see
you, Strung out in a burning fucking jungle far away" stuck with me
throughout their set, and for most of the night I was plagued with
images of Sgt. Pepper in fatigues, a junkie ex-POW too weary and
bedraggled to introduce Billy Shears. "Bloodletting", aside from
being way too catchy for a song called fucking "Bloodletting",
perfectly articulates the ennui responsible for the band's creation.
"Morbidly Festive" (one of a handful of more recent compositions that
has actually been recorded) evokes Dance With Me era TSOL, and
crescendos into a truly Songs For The Deaf-worthy bridge. Garnish
with lyrics more suited for the jihadwatch.org message board than a
rock song, and you've got my full attention. "Perpetual Care" is
another newer song, and may quite possibly be the best love song
written for a corpse since "I Heard Her Call My Name". Musically,
think Van Dyke Parks scoring strings for Love And Rockets
and you're almost there. "Between Heaven And Hell" is definitely the
standout track of all the new material, though. Described by Susi as
a paean to the fringe benefits of war, the song conjures up the less
cringe worthy moments of both Mr. Danzig and Mr. Jourgensen, while
boasting a monster riff (yes, a monster riff) that would make K.K.
Downing crap his trousers.
Those of you fortunate to have found a copy of the band's only
official recorded output (2003's The Beauty Within The Decay - one
thousand pressed and label goes "poof!") will go home happy as well.
The infectious arcade game bleeps of "All Is Lost", the
Bukowski-inspired "The Hand You Cannot Sever", and the (literally)
show-stopping title track were all present.
A few other gems were resurrected, if not revealed, that night. The
long dormant "Burn Like Rome" condenses twenty something years of
hardcore into two minutes, recalling Minor Threat, Cro-Mags, and Bad
Brains, mining but never miming. "Gardenia", another new one, is
soaked in reverb and lush guitar, and one can't help but imagine Kevin
Shields twisting knobs and insisting on a pitch bended synth part in
The band is stronger than they have ever been. Guitarist John Troy is
equal parts Ace Frehley, Steve Jones,and John McGeoch, and is a lot
better looking than all of them. Well, maybe not Ace. The rhythm
section, comprised of Anthony Realbuto and Jon Boucher (expatriates of
Connecticut's Eventide), is mentally insane, in addition to being
impossibly tight. Seeing them live, one can witness indications of
what greatness is yet to come. To put it simply, now is a good time
for you to start paying attention.
New York City
September 27, 2005