A Comprehensive Retrospective
hile it was always hard to figure out exactly what the hell Shai Hulud were pissed about, it was obvious that they were angry at something. Of course, that’s just what kept the band together for so many years--indiscriminate rage against the machine is easy for each member to funnel into their particular area of concern. Just, please Christ whatever you do, don’t ask them to sit down and talk about it. Unfortunately, sometimes, that’s exactly what they did. And thus, by their break-up, the group had nearly as many ex-members as it did full-length albums.
But this protracted history provides the key to the group’s status as one of the most influential hardcore groups: longevity. Every time another record came out, it seemed right to ask, “Wait, these guys are still around?” That, of course, wasn’t a question borne out of quality issues—although That Within Blood Ill-Tempered is completely overrated—but one more of survival. Looking back on it through old punk ‘zines, there was a clear formula. Each review began, “With the addition of [x] and subtraction of [y], [w] sees the band…”
As you can tell, Shai Hulud weren’t exactly my favorite band. They come down more in line with that band that was always sort of there, in case your favorite was in between records or, more accurately in hardcore, in between bands.
What you get in A Comprehensive Retrospective (Or: Or: How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Release Bad and Useless Recordings is mostly a fans-only venture. While twenty minutes is taken up with songs that many may already have as fans, the rest is riddled with obscurities (the band’s first demo, warehouse recordings, other various ephemera that should have remained such).
As such, I suppose that as a document to the working methods of the band, or as a means to chart their progression from humble poorly recorded basements to humble poorly funded studios, it’s essential listening (not to mention the top-notch and entertaining liner notes). But those uninterested in hearing even more poorly recorded hardcore from a band that has graciously been rescued from the grimiest hardcore history dust-bin by the good people at Revelation would do well to look elsewhere. A release of limited scope—the limited fanbase of a limited band.
Reviewed by: Michael Bennett
Reviewed on: 2005-03-04