Way before bands like Rise Above, Profound, Manliftingbanner there was a band from The Netherlands called LÄRM. They had a very distinct stance towards phenomena in society. They seem to me a very conscious bunch of punkers that founded the European Straight-Edge from 1982 on to 1988.
They were broadly known by punks but also were recognized by the sprawling hardcore punk community as a real Straight-Edge band. What struck me the most is their societal awareness on local and global scale when I read the lyrics. They criticize almost every aspect of 80’s Western society. It feels like a mirror way back in time. The lyrical content is really exhaustive, dealing with (almost?) every basis-subject that European Hardcore will deal with after them. I’m very surprised about the completeness of their output for sure, had never expected that. So, I assume that they also appealed to many people and created some kind of ground or foundation of subjects for later straight-edge, political, vegan, etc. -bands to follow. Concretely the lyrics deal with:
- Ecological problems caused by chemical industry and the apocalyptic visions triggered by witnessing all this.
Chemical suicide, we all gonna die.
- The rise of global politics, like the fact that according to them in the 80’s Europe’s a puppet on USA’s string. And that Russia is the bigger aggressor. And the questions about what will evolve out of this.
- Hatred against a fascist right-wing movement called O.S.L.
- The troubles in South-Africa, the white ruling the black or the minority ruling the majority
Something is wrong in South-Africa
Something must be done in South-Africa
- About the fact that punk ain’t shocking anymore and that they start to act like hippies in hardcore clothes!
Punk ideas are thrown out the door.
They’re just a bunch of hippies in their hardcore clothes.
- Also a song about pogo with no fights and no violence, just fun.
- That they want to react upon the lies spread by the greater in society, the youth-revolt is on it’s way.
- Local politics or social problems caused with the “Haagse Maffia” (CDA and VVD) are also discussed.
- The bleak vision of their future; globalisation-problems like world-crisis that will grow, word-conflict that will grow. Again an apocalyptic view when they think about all that.
We ain’t got no future, the end is here…
- About the fact that chemical warfare (Napalm bombs, radiation green) destroys not only on this instance but for many generations to come…
Don’t wanna pay their debts!
Similar subject about the use of weapons of mass-destruction.
Demand a future, ban the bomb!
- Surprisingly already about the animal-abuse in vivisection-laboratories.
- A the kids will have their say mentality
You’re to old to know your problems
- Psychological or philosophical lyrics also…
Thoughts are playing a game with me
It’s not what it seems to be
- Criticism on TV spots
TV spots, TV spots, visual crap
TV spots, TV spots, make you buy crap
- Humanities way to rather stay entertained and ignorant instead of knowing the truth about the world problems.
- Shockingly about suicide also
- About drunk people
Lying drunk on the floor, you think that’s hardcore?
- A few emotional songs too
- The cold war between Russia and USA
- Non-conformity and the limits of non-conformity.
The truth is really sad, in your non-conformity, you’re so conform.
- One night stands and pornography leading merely to superficial satisfaction and leading to no feelings and love at all.
- A fun song about everybody going metal called Metal Attitude Sucks (M.A.S.) and their view about it!
- Sadism of nuclear weapons and the stupid competition between countries for the best of those weapons.
- Surprisingly about broken homes also, they call it “Home broken home”…
- fascism, they accuse fascists of megalomania
- the grudges they hold or pity they have for junkies
Once drugs was fun, now it’s not
- The grudges they hold against bosses of factories
- question they have about friends getting settled and not sharing those same ideals anymore
We had the same ideals. Friends for a lifetime?
- Things that people have no answers about in life and that school doesn’t educate in also
what if you’re depressed, what if your father starts to cry, what if they beat you up and you don’t know why
- The troubled mind they have and the fact that they can’t be happy while everybody else is and while witnessing famine, torture, fascism, corruption, armsrace, vivisection, poverty, oppression…. And that they are called too negative when they feel that way about all that.
- A fun text about record-labels asking more than other people for stuff…
Does (your) fame define your price?
- Beer drinkers
Having fun is your only definition of punk
Forget the problems, let’s get drunk
You don’t belong here Go drown in your own beer
- Unity also:
Unity is a word so misunderstood
Most of the time it has done us no good…
You and your friends are maybe one
But I don’t call that real unity
- The fact that animals have feelings too
- the positive effects of starting something new of taking initiative
Use your head!!
- Rhetorical questions about telling someone the truth or calling it comfortably a lie…
- Smog, another product of our welfare
- the fact that violence sucks
All this rebellion and criticism seems very punk indeed. But while many punks were into drugs, these guys laid the foundation and wrote the first Straight-Edge songs on European soil. In songs like “Drunk Freak” and “Up To You” they express that growing concern. But most of all, they are aware of the effects all those political flaws, environmental problems, sociological troubles upon themselves. The complexity of modern life and the failure of the traditional punk to revolt as a movement against it. Leads them into a new and more individualistic philosophy of being straight-edge individual.
Some photo’s of the reunion show edition:
Some photo’s of the mailorder edition: