The History Of Nemesis Records by Patrick Kitzel & Frank Harrison  (Tribal Books/ Reaper Records) 2016

I’ll preface this article by stating that when it comes to putting together these reviews, unlike many of my peers, I do not fuck with press release material. I read so many reviews of books/music/movies/comics whatever that are just lazy rewrites of the blurb that accompanies the product. I consider reviews like that to be devoid of any genuine opinion or individual insight and therefore without critical merit. They depersonalise the experience of absorbing the material. As far as I’m concerned that is a massive disservice to the effort put into project by it’s creators and the expectations of you, the reader. Rest assured that when your stuff ends up on the desk of Nathan Bean, you better know I will review the SHIT out of that thing.

My first purchase on Nemesis Records way back in 1993 was the Bonesaw record. As was often the case in the 90’s, this was a random pick up based upon the fact that I thought Bonesaw was a cool name for a band and the songs on the record had hard titles. I had previously heard one Bonesaw song on a sampler CD someone gave me outside my first hardcore the year before and I rinsed that record for a whole summer. Have I listened to Bonesaw since that Summer? Have I fuck.

I picked up The History Of Nemesis Records on a recent visit to Revelation Records HQ in California. It was recommended to me following a pleasant conversation Dave Santinni aka Igby, who contributes not only a number of quality photos to the volume but some very unique reflections and anecdotes. And it is exactly that personal touch that is the distinguishing quality of Patrick Kitzel’s (Reaper Records/True Blue) first book. The authors attention to detail is impressive, bursting at the seams with hardcore folklore and it’s Big Frank Harrison’s brutally honest commentary that separates works like this from many of the other sugar coated, rose tinted hardcore retrospective doing the rounds.

The cast of characters testifying in this volume reads like a veritable who’s who of Californian Hardcore alumni including; Dan O’Mahoney (No For An Answer/411/Shiners Club), Mike Hartsfield (New Age Records/Outspoken/Freewill), Issac Golub (A Chorus Of Disapproval/Dear Furious), Andrew Kline (Strife), Jeff Banks (Chorus), Ron Martinez (Final Conflict), as well as the late Jon Bunch of Sense Field and Vision’s Dave Franklin. Each offers their own individual experience of Frank and it’s through the shifting lens of these myriad perspectives that the portrait of the man himself is constructed. It’s the type of storytelling that anyone who has stood around outside a hardcore show for long enough will be familiar with. That oral tradition is just as much an ingredient of hardcore as breakdowns, champion reverse weave sweatshirts and poorly timed stage dives.

The second part of the book explores the Nemesis catalogue at length. Every Nemesis release from The Offspring 7″ to xChorusx To Billingsgate to Sick Of It All is thoroughly visually documented where possible and accompanied by extensive notes and juicy nuggets of trivia.

Frank’s commentary in that regard is raw and unflinching. It’s fascinating to hear his personal stories behind how the label happened, how each release came to be and his relationships with the bands. I felt a sense of personal vindication reading his observations on Chain Of Strength’s lack of sincerity in particular, cos I have always hated that fucking bullshit band. The schism between Harrison and Chorus was unexpected and makes for an interesting read too. Upon finishing the book I’m left with the feeling that Frank’s revelations (sic) probably left a few dented ego’s in their wake. Layout and design on this volume comes courtesy of Jonathan Buske and he’s crammed it full of so many classic and previously unseen photos and flyers that even a casual fan of any of the bands mentioned will lose vast tracts of time in the visuals. I read this book during my recent Summer road trip through California and it really leant the book a sense of place and tangibility when I visited a town or saw a road sign for a place that was referenced in the book.

Hardcore is such a personal journey. It’s the crucible in which so many of us find out exactly who we are, what we believe and where we are headed. This book tells the story of a man and his label, who played a key role in the story of eighties/nineties Californian Hardcore and whose large presence certainly derailed and influenced the course of many lives.You can buy it HERE . The History Of Nemesis Records gets a very enthusiastic YES MATE from me. Outstanding. XXX