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INFEST- Slave MLP (Off The Disk Records, Switzerland, 1988)

In late 1987, I received a letter and a rehearsal tape from a band called INFEST and shortly after, an official demo tape followed. Matt Domino, guitarist and driving force behind the band, somehow stumbled across my fanzine Megawimp and happened to like my band, Fear Of God. In early 1988, Matt told me his band INFEST wanted to record an EP and release it on their own label. Since Thomas and I had already decided that we wanted to found a record label, I asked Matt if they would like to have a license pressing of the EP on our label. He loved the idea and came up with something even better: The band could record extra material in the studio so that we could release a 12″EP. Matt’s favorite HC record was SSD’s “Kids will have their say”, so this was the format he was very much striving for. The band hit the studio in June 1988 and sent the mastertape straight away. What can I say? I was blown away! The newer rehearsal material they sent me before entering the recording studio already showed a great increase in speed and brutality and the 18 songs were no letdown. I first didn’t like some production details, like the out of tune guitar and some of the vocals (which partially had this horrible Youth Of Today-style of singing, just gruffer). But it grew on me, as I kept playing the advance tape up and down, copying excerpts to about everybody in the world – and everybody in the world went nuts. It was obvious that this record would come as a real bombshell!
The band was quick to release their version of the songs. They had designed a great looking and perfectly fitting sleeve (with some variations that appeared later on) and upon seeing the sketch for it, I wanted to use it for the 12″ too. Matt didn’t like the idea, so I looked around. There was this rather crazy guy Matthias (or Seelenlos – soulless – as he called himself) who had recently sent me photos of some art he made and I particularly liked one of the the pictures. I suggested the band to entitle the 12″ “Slave” as I had one nicely fitting picture for a sleeve by that title and they loved it. Matt asked me to do the backside and the inserts. He specifically asked me to design the backside in the style of SSD’s “Kids will have their say” 12″ and that’s what I tried. At the time, I worked for some travel agency, mostly writing texts about trekking tours in the Himalaja and other regions – without ever having been there myself or hiking at all. One day, I had the Dalai Lama on the phone (no kidding) who was a friend of my boss. The boss was out of office when the guy called so I had to tell him to call back later. That’s about as far as I ever got to spiritual enlightenment. But the good thing was, that I had access to a computer with desktop publishing software and a laserprinter, which was unusual for the time, so I could design the INFEST stuff during office hours.

The mailorder version of “Slave” came in two variations: 100 copies on yellow and 100 copies on pink vinyl. Both came with a huge poster, stickers, a Megawimp leaflet and lyric sheet.
The 200 copies sold out immediately. Personally, I preferred the yellow vinyl pressing, why I had only kept this and sold the other at some point in time. Luckily, Markus Staiger, old time friend and CEO of the now biggest Metal label in the world, “Nuclear Blast Records”, told me that he still had a pink vinyl copy somewhere and when we recently met in Zürich, he brought a little present for me. I was chuffed.

For winter 1988, Thomas, Osi (Fear Of God drummer), Roman and I had planned another trip to the U.S., which was a good opportunity to meet the INFEST guys and hand them over their copies of “Slave” in person. Unfortunately, the pressing plant was pretty slow and acting up and when we finally received the 1’000 12″ers, they all came in a fuckedup sleeve with a weird white stripe. The original photo’s ratio wasn’t suitable for a 12″ x 12″ cover, so at the printer’s the chaps decided to simply add that stripe so that the image would “fit”. We were shocked, but departure was soon, so there was nothing we could do, besides the printer didn’t accept his fault and refused to take back the covers. I felt so horrible about this, so “unprofessional” and unexperienced, that I simply told the INFEST guys that the stripe there was intentional, to make the cover look more interesting. I’m not sure whether or not they bought the story, but all in all, they were very pleased and proud when they saw “Slave”.

Mind you this would be the end of a good and nice story. Though we had a great time with the INFEST guys, including a jam session during which we (half Fear Of God and half Infest) recorded some songs (DYS and Negative Approach covers, Infest and Fear Of God songs – you’ll be hearing these one day). When we got home, the MLP was already sold out and what could be called the third wave of Hardcore (and what later would appear as post-Hardcore to me) had kicked in and INFEST were on top of it. Thomas and I slowly started to shift apart. I lost interest in the contemporary music scene more and more, while he made many new friends and found a way for him to – let me put it like that – step out of my shadow. Somewhen in the early 90s, he (or we, I dom’t recall) decided to repress “Slave”, with the cover we originally wanted to see (minus the white stripe). 1’000 copies were made and a fair (I think even more than fair, from what I remember) share was sent to the band. The INFEST guys however were not amused at all by this. We should have asked them, but to me, it simply didn’t matter so much anyway. So ever since, INFEST hated us and especially me and a lot of gossip was spread. Thomas and I went separate ways and when in the late 90s or early 00s I sent Matt Domino an email asking for a possible CD release of “Slave”, I got some nasty threats in return. Wounded vanity here and there.

So many years later, it would seem insane and sad to me that the bad aftertaste still lasts: I can’t play “Slave” and enjoy it wholeheartedly anymore, though I think some of it is timeless (like the classic, yes classic drum roll intro with which the mayhem starts off – it still gives me goosebumps all over the body!). But that’s how it is to me: Music is something so personal and intimate that it’s also fragile and futile.

Download “Slave” here in the best sounding vinyl rip you have ever heard.

And now a word of warning:
Beware of the counterfeit currently congesting the market!

A few weeks ago, a counterfeit of this record surfaced (probably coming from the UK). Personally, I find it a bit shabby to produce a counterfeit of a rare record of which a legal re-issue exists. Obviously, it’s only made to trick people, make them believe they buy an original pressing. When this appeared two weeks ago, I immediately got messages and mails, asking me if it’s a legal Off The Disk repress. Well, it is not. The timing, with the Off The Disk boxset coming out soon, might of course make it look so. Maybe that’s what the bootleggers had in mind with the release date, so with the word about the boxset going around, they could trick more people into buying the counterfeit.

Anyway, here’s how to tell the original pressing:

1. Vinyl
Original press:
The outer groove etching reads: “OTD 02-A” and “OTD 02-B” (both handwritten). Also, it has the laquer cutters initials in printed characters: “R.So.” (for Rico Sonderegger, the laquer cutting master from St Gallen, Switzerland).
Counterfeit: “OTD 02 – A -” and “OTD 02 – B -“, with a big space between the catalogue number and the side initial. Misses the laquer cutter stamps!

2. Cover
Original press:
Glossy cover finish. Sharp, crisp image.
Counterfeit: Matt finish. Blurry image, low contrast.

3. Insert
Original press:
Black on yellow paper. Good printing quality.
Counterfeit: Black on white paper. Obviously copied.

4. Sound
I didn’t even care to play the counterfeit. It’s probably going to sound inferior, just like the Deep Six pressing had a noticeably weaker mastering, cutting job.