The band has been around for a long time, considering it was 1999 and people even here in nowheresville Ohio had heard of them. To see a label like Revelation release this album is a surprise, as much of their current roster (Temper Temper, Pitch Black) has seemed to be more into the retro and dance-punk style of things. Still, this is essential in terms of history in that, much like the Fleshies’ Gung Ho!, everything that was relegated to attics and boxes in the back of cabinets is restored and put forth as a way to understand the band. Tracks like “Sauve Qui Peut” really show how close punk and hardcore truly are, even if both groups are loath to admit it – the iconic guitar lines allow for Damien’s voice to really shine through in all its’ tough-as-nails glory. Guitar lines (especially during “This Wake I Myself Have Stirred”) look back to the earliest days of Offspring and even earlier to the Melvins.
The quality of the disc does vary too, with the tracks from the Crucial Chaos radio show sounding much more muddy than the tracks immediately preceding. Shai Hulud’s energy is never called into question even if the recording’s quality may be. The only problem that I have with “Comprehensive Retrospective” is the fact that the tracks are not put into a chronological order; tracks from 1995 are stuck right in the middle and end of the disc, a disc that begins a year later than that. “Unlearned” is truly a diamond in the rough, as the fury laid down by Oliver and Matt really push the track to blinding speed while Damien’s vocals (scratchy as they may be) provides a stabilizing influence.
Sometimes, the best tracks a band could ever release come in these demo and rough forms. Too many a producer has gotten a big head and decide to put eir polish on it, and oft-times this comes at the expense of the spontaneity and soul of the band. Sure, some of the tracks on this disc sound no better than the local crust bands of the day, but the band is solid enough to put their soul through any mechanical limitations. The band is apparently going the way of the buffalo, so aside from buying a complete discography of the band, this is the best way to get a running start into knowing the band.
Top Tracks: Unlearned (Solo Rhythm), Sauve Qui Peut
Shai Hulud – A Comprehensive Retrospective / 2005 Revelation / 24 Tracks / http://www.hulud.com / http://www.revelationrecords.com / Reviewed 28 March 2005