A Season of Songs, day 48: Subversion as a Tactical Metaphor

A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring.  I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up.  I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever.  Enjoy!

Today’s song is “Subversion as a Tactical Metaphor AKA Technology is our Iron Lung AKA Species Traitor” by Creation Is Crucifixion taken from their split 7″ with Unruh (1998).

Who desires to become the flesh machine?
Convenience sells us our carbon death.
Our hands reek of silicon.
Purge me of your protocol.

In the fall of 1996 after moving to Pittsburgh, I began going to shows that were being held in the Carnegie Mellon Student Union’s Connan Room.  Most of these shows were being put on by members of the CMU Substance Free House, a group of mostly punk kids who were living a substance free lifestyle who managed to convince the university to allow them to have a special housing unit and to sponsor shows on campus.  I would become close with several members of the Substance Free House and did an interview with some of them for my 1997 zine “Tales of a Young Cryptic”.  One of the main people behind the Substance Free House and the shows was Nathan Martin.

In 1997, Nathan would gather several friends from the Western PA hardcore scene to form Creation is Crucifixion.  Nathan was a CMU art student, so much was centered around the artistic intent of the band.  The name was chosen for a mix of offensiveness and cleverness.  From the beginning, the general theme of the lyrics was examining the relation between humans and technology.  The sound was a very heavy, technical metal-based hardcore sound with Nathan’s anguished vocals layered overtop.  It wasn’t something that I was really into previously but mixed with the more in-depth themes of the band (as opposed to much of the conservative trends in metalcore in Western PA at the time and the general boneheadness of lots of other hardcore), Creation is Crucifixion would introduce me to a whole new world of music that I had previously been ignoring.

That summer I would put on a show for The Judas Iscariot (NYC 3-piece) at 335 Oakland Ave and got Creation is Crucifixion to play as one of their first shows (along with my original Pittsburgh band Sparrow).  Original bassist Todd Ladner wouldn’t be able to make the show, so they played as a 3 piece.

After awhile the band become more and more intertwined with Nathan’s art pieces and eventually was all wrapped up as part of the Carbon Defense League, which was a collective of artists and activists working in digital media and technology.  The band would become the tactical weapon for bringing CDL’s ideas to a wider audience.  One of CDL’s taglines was “Where technology and anarchy fuck”.  CDL’s work would include such projects as reverse-engineered Gameboy games.

Creation is Crucifixion were a brutal force live.  Nathan, guitarist Paul Nowoczynski and drummer Mike Laughlin would make up the core of the band with a handful of second guitarists and bassists swapping out throughout the years.  Nowoczynski’s math-y, metal-y guitar work and Laughlin’s beastly drumming set the framework for CIC’s songs.  Laughlin is probably the most insane drummer i’ve ever had the chance to repeatedly watch.  I spent more than a few CIC shows hanging out beside the drums just watching him do his thing.  Because the theory was so important to their concept as a band, CIC sets often included Nathan taking some time to talk about the ideas behind their songs.

The band members would relocate to California for a number of years and mostly become inactive.  They’ve done a couple shows over the years.  They’re playing the King of the Monsters fest this summer in Arizona, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that they’ll also pull out a Pittsburgh show.  Nathan and Mike both live in Pittsburgh these days.  Nathan is now CEO of his own company, Deep Local, I guess best described as some type of design company.  Their tagline seems to be: “We are an innovation studio that creates remarkable experiences for brands.”  It’s a far cry from “where technology and anarchy fuck”, but it seems like Nathan is still doing some great work and he still supports the music community that gave him his start (Roboto still owes him part of his Kickstarter reward.  I’m sorry I dropped the ball on that).

CIC isn’t for everyone but if you have any interest in metal, metalcore, songs about technology, and/or insane drumming, I’d recommend you giving it a go.  Favorite songs = “Data Body” off the In_Silico album and “The Iconography of John Henry” off the split with Suicide Nation (a song that Emma and I did an acoustic folk song version of several times about 5-6 years ago now).


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