懲罰者 The Punisher

懲罰者 The Punisher《人民公僕 Public Servants》

 專輯:人民公僕 Public Servants
 公司:Dying Art Productions
 年份:2011
 樂風:Thrash Metal


這是一個發生在中國東北遼寧省的故事。話說在南方大小夜場打滾多年的結他手高振博,2008年意興闌珊回到家鄉錦州,在QQ認識黑金團凍結的月亮主音範博並獲對方殷勤招待,原因是垂涎他的技術和器材...可是道不同不相為謀大家不歡而散,但正所謂不打不相識,雙方由爭吵到和解到萌生合組一支thrash團的念頭,找來凍月鼓手張開一同尋覓新戰友,花了兩年時間懲罰者The Punisher終於在2010年8月成軍。


2011年初發行的《人民公僕》是第一張正式作品,雖只是張十七分鐘半長的demo EP,收藏3寸CDR的三折紙卡製作卻毫不馬虎,不止團名就連美術都直接引用了Marvel的漫畫角色Punisher,樂隊看來受美國流行文化影響很深,又看到有首歌叫《戰爭機器 Gears of War》,不知是另一啟發還是偶然?起用Punisher也相信是團員抱著跟他一致的信念,在中華地區美漫不算流行未必人人知道這路英雄,就改以較多人熟悉的日漫做比喻:《浪客劍心》中的警視廳偵探齋藤一,前身是新撰組隊長,但時移世易身份改變,仍堅持不離不棄新撰組「惡即斬」的思想儆警懲奸。這也是懲罰者的精神,只要是罪犯就必以暴易暴替天行道。雖是如此,歌詞卻放棄海外市場和自身長遠發展考量選擇使用中文,能就各大社會議題抒發更真摰的感情,內容在中國樂隊中具相當難得的批判性和不妥協態度,可以理解為何沒有印上歌詞,相比起來單以Punisher畫像表達已溫和得多。所以很慶幸他們未有遇到任何審查或禁制,《人民公僕》可順利發行並流通,有聽過軍械所嗎?同樣是支歌詞敏感的內地重金屬團,作品包括《我決不在自己的祖國裡暫住》、《人民需要反抗》,但先被自己所屬的唱片公司和銷售商抵制,再遭政府以種種理由查封列為禁團,香港成為他們在全中國唯一能自由無顧慮地推廣自己音樂和發表己見的地方。懲罰者居然沒有遭逢同等命運絕對是萬幸。但也可能代表他們真的太微不足道,或只是時日問題...


懲罰者的音樂是典型的激流金屬thrash metal,這要追溯到八十年代,當時hardcore punk大行其道成一股與重金屬抗衡的龐大勢力,美國舊金山的樂隊索性反客為主,把這對頭派融合傳統重金屬成激流金屬,同時保留重金屬的旋律美學和高技術性,及來自hardcore punk的爽快速度節奏、深沉氣氛與批判思維,還有不修篇幅的原始粗糙,跟銷華麗的主流樂隊成強烈對比。主題曲《人民公僕 Public Servants》就是最佳的詮釋例子,激烈演奏配上起伏有序的編曲帶來連串高潮,在錄音室一次錄成的即興結他solo充滿火花(只是遺憾地即興得連結他手自己都重演不了),還有歌手以尖銳高亢嗓子控訴「公僕」們假公濟私的勾當,從頭到尾一氣呵成真確捕捉八十年代地下金屬的粗獷不造作神韻。這不止是懲罰者自己,還是近代中國重金屬的代表作,如要製作一張合輯向全世界宣揚中國地下音樂,《人民公僕》不可不收。


跟明顯是千錘百鍊而生的主題曲相比,另外三首遜色了點,《破相 Disfigured》走中板,有點像以這種節奏加上豐富旋律馳名的奧克蘭thrash團Testament,但後半有點迷失未能承接前段與結他solo建立的氣勢;《重生之火 Rebirth Flame》編曲與樂器效果擁有好些特點,但只將一個主歌過渡副歌的段落重覆就成首歌,連獨立solo部份都沒有重覆感太強,比較接近九十年代thrash metal從速度和多變轉向利用重型節奏配簡約編排營造壓迫感的手法,惜不算成功。相信兩首屬早期創作,加上始終EP的定位是demo,仍可再作修飾完善。


《戰爭機器》重拾完整,但看到演唱方面的兩難困局:舊時thrash metal用力吐字的唱法是主,節奏和力度凌駕旋律十分配合這種音樂,再加入八十年代金屬盛行的歌劇式高音提升張力,不過用嗓具有自己特色別於西方歌手,或者是文化背景使然,帶點中國戲劇演唱的味道。《人民公僕》內兩種唱法交替運用得宜達錦上添花之效,其他曲目則偏向挑戰唱功與音域,《戰爭機器》更是肆意賣弄高音將喉嚨推到物理極限,這類展示技術的舖排在重金屬裡無可厚非,但刺破耳膜的高音可不是輕易接受,這是很多人不愛聽舊式重金屬的原因,也絕對影響樂團的叫座力。


縱存瑕疵,作為登場介紹這demo EP已屬超過預期水準之作,也不得不讚賞錄音製作,是能夠直接出唱片的專業質素,也沒有盲目追求音質,歐美樂隊喜採用最新現代錄音技術,卻忽視thrash metal屬於八十年代這重要一點,結果音色電氣失去應有的情懷,《人民公僕》則花了心機在調音後製,糜爛與舊式得剛剛好的令人有時光倒流之感,便比好些同代外國樂隊多一份真誠。在樂團的豆瓣網站更可找到多首新demo,似乎想向技術派路向進發,重金屬作為地下音樂從來不易生存,希望懲罰者能堅持下去,盡快為我們這班追隨者完成首張大碟吧。


最後跟大家分享《人民公僕》歌詞,原意是譴責內地借中央之名刮民膏民脂以自肥的貪官污吏,但如今放在所謂法治、所謂中國最後公義之地的香港也解讀得正確無誤,能解救中國百姓的可能只餘Punisher。



《人民公僕》(遼寧錦州懲罰者詞)


油頭粉面,指手劃腳,當面是人,背後是狗

桑拿按摩,胡吃海喝,公款報銷,樣樣不少

上有政策,下有對策,層層克扣,影響深刻

高高在上,做威做福,人民公僕,當家做主


欲望在日益膨脹,金錢在閃閃發光

權利指引著一切,你他媽道德已淪為垃圾

你以國家的名義,滿足你自己的私欲

你以法律的正義,安排你的個人目的


怎麼high,怎麼玩,反正不花你的錢

怎麼審,怎麼判,看你銀子轉不轉

怎麼拆,怎麼建,城市規劃你說算

哪有真理?我就是真理


愚弄大眾,泯滅人性,獨裁專政

去他媽的人道,去他媽的自由

假公濟私,中飽私囊,權錢交易

去他媽的公平,去他媽的正義


你是人民的公僕,還是人民的祖宗?

你以人民當家做主,還是你做了人民的主!



The Punisher@MySpace:http://www.myspace.com/punisherthrash

懲罰者@豆瓣:http://site.douban.com/Punisher


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 Album: Public Servants
 Label: Dying Art Productions
 Year: 2011
 Genre: Thrash Metal


Once upon a time in China, a veteran guitarist returned to his hometown Jinzhou in North-Eastern China after roaming the south for seven years. He hooked up with the vocalist of a local black metal band Frozen Moon on QICQ (a totally shameless "made-in-China" replica of ICQ, which ironically became the dominating instant online messenger and drove the original ICQ out of the country long before it was deader than death as now). The band wanted his skills and guitars so much thus invited him to join however the match didn't work out well. After several beers the two went through arguments to reconciliation then an idea to begin their own thrash metal band. Together with the drummer from Frozen Moon plus a few new members, The Punisher began their march in late 2010 and a 4-track demo EP "Public Servants" released a few months later.


It is obvious their biggest inspiration besides metal comes from The Punisher. The band not only named themselves after the Marvel Comics anti-hero, but also sampled the promotional graphics of the "Punisher: War Zone" movie as artwork for the EP. Despite its unoriginality the 3-folder cardboard 3" CDR holder is produced neatly. One must respect them in taking this Punisher mantle as well his radical "eye for an eye" beliefs in the highly political sensitive and restrictive China. On top of that the band even sing in their native tongue Mandarin to openly condemn the more than common corruptions and unfairness in the country instead of by the more subtle English. Let's pray for them to escape the fate of censorship which most other socially challenging underground bands in China already faced.


Their thrash metal is just as uncompromising as that came strictly from the '80s school, reminding the greats like Testament and Exodus. Even the recording is top notch, extremely crisp yet without the excessive digital touches prevail in the modern "retro-thrash" scene. The raw aggression in their music is not diminished by a bit just as the way thrash metal should be. The title track opens the album with such a primitive force which relives the glorious days of thrash, packed with fast and tight riffs and a splendid solo (which sadly was a studio one-take improvisation even the guitarist himself cannot rehash nor reach the same level of awesomeness again). With the vocalist angrily spits out words in Chinese attacking the so-called "public servants" who rob and extort in the name of a greater good, this is already one of the greatest song in Chinese underground music history, be it (thrash) metal or the independent scene overall.


Unfortunately the other three songs are not as polished and completed. The mid-paced "Disfigured" is reminiscent of Testament in their heyday, however the latter half does not make good use of the previous build up and wanders aimlessly. "Rebirth Flame" is repetitive which is essentially replaying the same parts twice, not even a unique solo included. This manner is closer to the '90s thrash bands that pursue groove and minimalism, yet not a very successful attempt. All these can be forgiven for its demo nature that we should look forward to improved rearrangements in future. Finally "Gears of War" brings back the good times, but also brings up a minor matter in singer's voice. Besides typical harsh thrash metal vocal he also practices soaring screams in NWOBHM style. His high pitch vocal does have a very special tone that sounds inspired by traditional Chinese opera singing, making him different from singers in the west with this distinctive favour. However he just goes too high sometimes that may turn some listeners off.


Flawed indeed it is, this 4-track demo EP achieves way beyond expectation both musical and production wise. It is safe to say The Punisher has made themselves one of the greatest contemporary Chinese thrash metal band with "Public Servants". There are a few new demo tracks on their Douban website http://site.douban.com/Punisher that venture into the realm of technical thrash. They definitely deserve a very bright future, just please release the debut full-length soon before being banned or disbanded in this country that anything bad can happen for whatever reason.


The Punisher@MySpace:http://www.myspace.com/punisherthrash

The Punisher@Douban:http://site.douban.com/Punisher



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