Albums time forgot pt. II – Boxed In s/t

I forgot how much I love lyric sheets. It’s fucking absurd – the length of some of these things. The fact they thought people cared about what they had to say, these bands. Huh. I cared. I still care. I still read lyric sheets. And Boxed In’s lyrics and explanations of the lyrics (is that purely a hardcore punk thing?) stretch the whole length of a two sided LP sized sheet, Xeroxed, sloppy and wonderful. How great is that? How goddamn uncouth at this point in time when any expectation of even a 30 second long attention span is woefully misguided or arrogant or both.

“I have no answer/I have no gospel/ I’m as lost as you/adrift in the madness/bombarded from birth of what we must be sold/ the dream of a life branded til death/ powerless?”
(from “Edifice”)

When I “moved on” from punk when I was 19 or 20, journeying to the outer reaches of free jazz, the art-gardery and noise I felt cheated by the lack of lyric sheets in the albums. Thankfully a lot of free jazz still included liner notes; usually obnoxious, rarely informative, but sometimes entertaining, they were things that tried to explain your reaction to the music for you. I still read them. Sometimes over and over, depending on how entertaining they are: I reread them while eating lunch, while taking a break from work, while on the toilet, while listening to the actual music even. I remember doing that with Crass lps, with Anti-Schism records, blanking out on what it all meant, what I was supposed to infer. The artifact of the record is still hugely important to me, simply for these little pieces of paper, which always seemed to be a connecting point between the music and listener, a small cry – just read this you idiot, enemy, friend, confidant.

Boxed In are a good punk band. They gave a shit. It seems they still do as they all seem to be in different bands now (see below). I can trace some lineages of the players on a quick google. Many of them have been in previous bands I still listen to, the most memorable being Health Hazard, Suffer and Ebola (all of which are seriously worth hunting down after you get past how ridiculous their names look printed next to each other). I always admired the UK scene at around the turn of the century. There were so many potent, angry records being churned out from bands like the aforementioned Suffer, Sawn Off, Headache, Voorhees, Stalingrad, Shank, Doom, Scatha, Urko and others. Usually these bands seemed to be documented by the Flat Earth and Armed With Anger labels, of which I believe Flat Earth is still around (and highly worth checking out.) I got the Boxed In self titled album at Ear Wax Records a month ago in their sale bin for 4 bucks, which seems ridiculous, but then I think of all the shattering things I’ve procured in sale bins I realize it might be a furthering of their worth. It’s almost as though you can only judge a bands quality by how unacknowledged they are. Eh, yeah, bad logic, but it’s a start. And Boxed In needs a new legion of fans, or at least a few more nostalgic dick heads like me– so let’s risk it.

Boxed In play an unruly but tight hardcore punk: fast, thrashy, with school boy production and Eric Wood-like bass flourishes. They’re not power violence, or grind core, or crust; they’re just speedy, pissed off thrashing hardcore. It’s fitting this was co-released by the excellent Crime Scene and Lengua Armada records (Los Crudos, Charle Bronson). Frankly, I don’t know or care what sub-genre they fit into, but it sounds like hardcore punk should — authentically angry vocals, minute but compact production, and music played at breakneck speed like as though what they were doing was, well, important. I keep thinking of Los Crudos as I listen to them, although it’s hard to really compare anything to Los Crudos at this point as their influence is so convoluted and important. But that same sense of putting it all in, as though the whole thing is a commentary on the collective lives of these guys at that one moment when the engineer hit record is just like Los Crudos. The playing is just shy of completely unhinged and manic. A contemporary day equivalent is probably Sex Vid, another back to basics, barely in control punk band that exhibits a certain, nebulous quality of fucked up punk rock ferocity and psychotic rage. But they also had a great dirge to them, a thundering, painful lunge as heard in a song like “They Live again…”

“The powerful are laughing and why not?… huddled masses left to die/it’s not rocket science…” (“They Live again)

And like life, the lyrics are all over the place, from the misanthropic rant on the state of experience, youth and the game of conkers (“That old chestnut) to a bombing of a street market in Baghdad (“Too many dead”). Yeah, they’re political, but more in those moments when we all feel like giving up on this crushing oncoming rush of men with guns. And the lyric sheet is something you can sit back and read and appreciate, simply for the goddamn effort. Because you do give a damn. You care. You got the message.

And is this going be a revelation in your listening life? No, probably not, but it’s a small gem in a shit pile. Forgotten most definitely, as so many things are but shouldn’t be. Anyway, it’s worth more than a couple of of listens some dreary afternoon.

Thankfully, you can buy their discography for a mere 5 pounds from Flat Earth records:

Or, like me, you can luck out and stumble upon their album in your local record store. But please do buy the artifact. They put a lot of work in it. It shows. It practically bleeds out the grooves. And the album also has some great screen printed artwork, that you can feel under the fingertips, another aspect that I miss.

As Boxed In is defunct, you can hear the continuation of the band in

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