Discharge are a British hardcore punk band formed in 1977 by Terence "Tezz" Roberts and Royston "Rainy" Wainwright. They are often considered among one of the very first bands to play hardcore punk. While the band had substantial lineup changes over its history, the classic lineup from the early 1980s featured bassist Wainwright, drummer Roberts, his brother Anthony "Bones" Roberts playing guitar, and vocalist Kelvin "Cal" Morris.[1]

The band is characterized by a minimalistic approach of music and lyrics, a heavy, distorted, and grinding guitar-driven sound and raw, shouted vocals similar to a political speech, with lyrics on anarchist and pacifist themes. AllMusic calls the band's sound a "high-speed noise overload" characterized by "ferocious noise blasts" [2]The band's 1982 debut album, Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing, went to number two on the UK Indie Charts and number 40 in the UK Album Chart. In the early 1980s, numerous singles and EPs placed in the top 10 of the UK Indie Charts, including the 1981 EP Why? (#1) and the 1982 single State Violence State Control.

Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing pave the way for thrash metalblack metalcrust punkgrindcore and various extreme metal subgenres. The musical genre ofd-beat is named after Discharge and their distinctive drumbeat.

Career[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Formation; classic lineup (1977–1979)[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Discharge was formed in 1977 in Stoke-on-Trent by Terence "Tezz" Roberts (vocals) and Royston "Rainy" Wainwright (guitar).[1] They soon recruited Roberts's younger brother Anthony "Bones" Roberts on lead guitar, Nigel Bamford on bass and Anthony "Akko" Axon on drums.[1] The musical style of the band was initially influenced by 1977-era punk bands such as the Sex PistolsThe Damned and The Clash. Engaging Tanya Rich as their manager, the band recorded their first demo, supported bands such as The Ruts, The Clash and The Damned at The Victoria Hall, Hanley, and began touring.

Atkinson left later that year, followed by Bamford, and the band recruited their roadie Kelvin "Cal" Morris as vocalist, moving Terry Roberts to drums and Wainwright to bass.[1] With Morris's addition, the group abandoned their previous Sex Pistols-influenced material and developed a new set of songs with a retooled sound. Anthony Roberts played guitar with a heavy, distorted, and grinding style and Morris shouted or screamed vocals without melody. The tempo of the band's songs also steadily increased over the next year or so.[1] The stylistic transition made by the band was part of a broader trend in the early 1980s in the UK, which is known as "UK 82" or Second Generation UK Hardcore. Discharge and bands such as Chaos UKAmebix, and Charged GBH took the existing 1977-era punk sound and melded it with the incessant, heavy drumbeats and "wall of sound" distortion guitar pioneered in Overkill of Motörhead.

The new, harder-edged style also tended to use much darker, more nihilistic and violent lyrics, focusing on anarchist and pacifist themes while emphasizing the grisly effects of nuclear warfare and the social ills caused by capitalism. The band also expressed its political and social themes in its albums' artwork, which depicted the horrors of war using an iconic black-and-white photography style. One of the notable images is the "Impaled Dove" artwork from an W.W. II anti-war poster, which depicts a dove impaled on a bayonet.[3] The first gig with this new line-up and new sound was at Northwood Parish Hall. Among the audience was local record shop owner Mike Stone, who ran the Clay Recordspunk record label.[1]

Early EPs; Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing (1980–1982)[edit source | editbeta]Edit

In 1980, Discharge signed with Clay Records, and recorded their first single Realities of War in February 1980, which made the UK Indie Chart when it was released in April, after being played on John Peel's show, peaking at number 5 and spending 44 weeks in the chart.[1] The band also performed their first shows outside of Stoke-on-Trent in 1980, playing in LeicesterPreston and Glasgow. After two further EP releases in that same year, founding member Terry Roberts departed, later joining UK Subs, to be replaced initially by Keith Haynes of Picture Frame Seduction and soon thereafter by Dave "Bambi" Ellesmere (formerly of The Insane) before the Why? EP was recorded.[1] Ellesmere did not stay long, and the band replaced him with Garry Maloney of The Varukers on drums. Why? gave the band their first UK indie number one.[1]

A reviewer from calls the music from this period "ugly and jagged without the artistic convolution of their no-wave contemporaries overseas", composed of "catchy, repetitive, stomping chords[,]...drumming that seems to emphasize creating a hellacious racket rather than keep a steady beat" and "very serious and socially conscious" song lyrics. The reviewer notes that "instead of creating a melody, vocalist Cal’s grunting shout...blends in with the rhythm", in effect becoming "a fourth [rhythm] instrument". The reviewer argues that the early 1981 EP Why? "...revolutionized everything...[paving the] way for the atonal shredding of hardcore punk, thrash, death metal, and grind, but also the dead-serious political ideals and brutal backing of crust hardcore". Ian Glasper described the EP as "one of the most potent anti-war records ever made".[4] Tom G. Warrior of Celtic Frost credited Discharge as "a revolution, much like Venom", saying, "When I heard the first two Discharge records, I was blown away. I was just starting to play an instrument and I had no idea you could go so far. And to me, they were unlike other punk bands--they sounded more like metal."[5]

Discharge recorded their first album, 1982's Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing, which was the number one punk album of all time in a poll by Terrorizer magazine.[6] The album reached number two on the indie album chart and number 40 in the UK Album Chart.[1] The group played regularly throughout the UK, often appearing with bands such as GBH and The Exploited, and the success of the debut album also saw them touring Canada, the United States, Italy, Yugoslavia, Holland, Finland, and Sweden.[1][7] The lyrics on the album tended to be short political statements that were repeated. The album's title track, for example, consists of only three lines:"Lied to threatened, cheated and deceived/ Hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing/ Led up garden paths and into blind alleys." The song "Free Speech for the Dumb" is even more lyrically stripped down; it consists solely of the words from the title repeated emphatically.

1982's "State Violence State Control"/"Dooms'day" single garnered further critical praise, described in the fanzine Love and Molotov Cocktails as "...just about the most perfect realisation of a combination of the musical power of Motörhead and the lyrical mastery of Dead Kennedys at their best. Discharge are out there on their own, at the top of their game and it's hard to see how they can improve on this."[citation needed]

Heavy metal crossover period; first breakup (1982–1987)[edit source | editbeta]Edit

In 1982, Anthony Roberts left the group, later to join his brother Terence in Broken Bones. He was replaced by Peter "Pooch" Purtill who brought significant heavy metal influences. The Warning... EP shows drastic stylistic differences, with Morris changing his angry shouts to a mix of regular singing and football chants. As well, the band used significantly slower tempos and their D-beat punk style was replaced with metal-oriented beats.

With the release of Ignorance, Purtill and Maloney left the band to form the punk/metal crossover band HellsBelles, to be replaced by guitarists Les "The Mole" Hunt and drummer Michael "Micky" Gibson. Following the later addition of second guitarist Stephen "Fish" Brooks, they released 1986's Grave New World, a mainstream metal album with a glam sound from Morris's high-pitched singing style. The album reached the indie top 10, but the band struggled with personnel problems as Morris departed and was briefly replaced by ex-Wrathchild front man Rob "Rocky Shades" Berkeley the following year. The group disbanded shortly thereafter.

Reformation with new lineup (1990–1999)[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Morris formed a new version of the band in 1990 with Andrew "Andy" Green on guitar, Anthony Morgan on bass, and Mika Karppinen initially playing drums, only to be replaced by the returning Maloney. The Live at City Garden, New York City album on Clay Records followed.[1] In 1991 they released Massacre Divine, which retained the metal sound, though with a noticeably harder edge than on Grave New World. Morris again changed his vocal style, this time to rougher growling, similar to Brian Johnson of AC/DC. They toured widely in support of the record, including their only visit to Japan, but the tour was negatively received.[citation needed] In 1993 they released Shootin' Up the World, which continued Cal's new vocal style, but the songs were significantly heavier than on Massacre Divine. The album retains the metal direction, although experiments with strange lyrics and song structures, coming close to thrash metal at times. Morris assembled further versions of the group, but they again disbanded in 1999.

Reunion of classic lineup; subsequent activity (2001–present)[edit source | editbeta]Edit

[1][2]Discharge performing in Rome in 2006. The distinctive lettering of the band's name can be seen in the banner at the back of the stage.

In 2001, the classic line up of Morris, Roberts, Roberts, and Wainright reunited after meeting at a party held by original bassist Bamford, and in 2002 they released their self-titled album Discharge, a return to their early 1980s style featuring political commentary and aggressive playing.[1] As well, they brought back their intense D-beat drumming style, although combined with the remaining metal influence, it gave the album a speed metal influence with its thrashy riffs. Morris would not commit to touring to promote the album and left the band, to be replaced by Anthony "Rat" Martin of The Varukers. The single The Beginning of the End was released in 2006, which marked a further step towards a return to the punk sound. Dave "Proper" Caution replaced Terence Roberts after his second departure this same year, and the group released theDisensitise album in 2008.In 2011 the band released an EP titled "Propaganda Feeds". In 2012 they released a split single with American band Off with Their Heads, released on Drunken Sailor Records.[8]

Influence[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The Encyclopaedia Mettallum "classif[ies] Discharge as the foundation of grindcore influence, where many future grind/death metal bands consider Discharge their major influence. Such bands like Napalm Death and S.O.B. were heavily influenced by Discharge and really came together because of being influenced by them. Also bands likeHellhammer/Celtic FrostBathory and Sepultura ha[ve] mention[ed] the hardcore punk era Discharge as one of their main influences.[9] Grindcore is an extreme genre of music characterized by heavily distorted, down-tuned guitars, high speed tempo, blast beats, and vocals which consist of incomprehensible growls, or high-pitched shrieks.


James Hetfield of Metallica nominated Cal for Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Singers poll. Cal was No. 17 on a list of 20 singers that James nominated.[10]


The intense Motörhead- and Buzzcocks-influenced drum beat used by Discharge early in their career is referred to as D-beat. It became a subgenre of hardcore punk, especially in JapaneseBrazilian and Scandinavian hardcore punk scenes.

Many bands that followed Discharge's stylistic approach, primarily in Sweden, began using the "Dis-" prefix and "-charge" suffix in their names, and even began using "Des-" words with "Dis-" in its place as a parody. Examples include Disaccord, DisfearDisclose, Discard, Recharge, Kegcharge, Disarm and Distraught. The bands who followed this naming trend also imitated Discharge's logo. This resulted in UK anarchist punk band Active Minds issuing an EP in 1995 entitled Dis Is Getting Pathetic, which parodied the cover of Fight Back.[11]

As cover songs

Discharge's influence can also be seen in the range of cover versions recorded by hardcore punk and metal groups. The Scottish anarcho-punk band Oi Polloi covered the song "State Violence, State Control". During the same period, the Swedish hardcore punk band Mob 47 covered "Never Again" on their Ultimate Attack recording. New York City anarchist crust band Nausea, active from 1985–1992, recorded "Ain't No Feeble Bastard" along with "Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing", on The Punk Terrorist Anthology, Vol. 1. Swedish grindcore band Nasum covered "Visions of War" for a tribute compilation. The Southern American punk metal band The Cooters covered "A Hell on Earth/Cries of Help" on their 2005 album Chaos or Bust. D-beat/hardcore punk band From Ashes Rise recorded the nuclear war-themed "Hell on Earth". In 2003, US hardcore band Ensign covered "Protest and Survive" on their album of covers Love the Music, Hate the Kids. In 2009 Peruvian crust punk band Reciklaje cover "The Nightmare Continues" for their album El Declive de las Estructuras.

Metal groups from several metal sub-genres have recorded Discharge songs. Thrash metal bands covering Discharge material include Metallica ("Free Speech For The Dumb" and "The More I See", on theirstudio covers album Garage Inc.); Anthrax ("Protest and Survive" on their studio album Attack of the Killer B's); and Brazilian Sepultura ("A Look At Tomorrow", "Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing" and "Protest and Survive"). The groove metal band Machine Head covered "The Possibility of Life's Destruction" as a bonus track to their album The More Things Change....

Discharge songs also attracted interest from other metal sub-genres, such as doom metal and black metal. UK doom metal band Solstice covered "Protest & Survive", and Norwegian black metal band Carpathian Forest covered "The Possibilities of Life's Destruction" on their compilation album We're Going to Hell for This - Over a Decade of Perversions, while the grindcore/death metal band Napalm Death covered "War's No Fairytale" on their Leaders Not Followers: Part 2 album. As well, the Swedish melodic death metal pioneers At the Gates covered "The Nightmare Continues" as a hidden track on their With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness album. French doom/sludge band Monarch! also covered "A Look at Tomorrow" on their A Look At Tomorrow/Mass Destruction EP. UK drone / sludge monsters Moss covered 'Maimed And Slaughtered' on their 'Tombs Of The Blind Drugged' EP.

The Canadian industrial metal band Monster Voodoo Machine named their second album release State Voodoo/State Control after Discharge's "State Violence/State Control", and they included a cover version of "Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing", on their "Bastard Is As Bastard Does" single. Other metal bands covering Discharge songs include Soulfly ("Ain't No Feeble Bastard" and "The Possibility of Life's Destruction") and Machine Head ("The Possibility of Life's Destruction" on The More Things Change... digipack).

Band members[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Current members
  • Royston "Rainy" Wainwright – guitar (1977); bass (1977–1987, 2001–present)
  • Anthony "Bones" Roberts – guitar (1977–1982, 2001–present)
  • Anthony "Rat" Martin – vocals (2003–present)
  • David "Proper" Caution – drums (2006–present)
Former members
  • Terence "Tezz" Roberts – vocals (1977); drums (1977–1980, 2001–2006)
  • Nigel Bamford – bass (1977, 2001)
  • Anthony "Akko" Atkinson – drums (1977)
  • Kelvin "Cal" Morris – vocals (1977–1987, 1991–1999, 2001–2003)
  • David "Bambi" Ellesmere – drums (1980)
  • Keith Haynes – drums (1981)
  • Garreth "Garry" Maloney – drums (1981–1984, 1986–1987, 1991–1995)
  • Peter "Pooch" Purtill – guitar (1982–1984)
  • Leslie "The Mole" Hunt – guitar (1984–1986)
  • Michael "Mickey" Gibson – drums (1984–1986)
  • Stephen "Fish" Brooks – guitar (1986–1987)
  • Rob "Rocky Shades" Berkley – vocals (1987)
  • Andrew "Andy" Green – guitar (1990–1995)
  • Anthony "Jake" Morgan – bass (1990–1995)
  • Mika Karppinen – drums (1990–1991)
  • Nicolas "Nick" Bushell – bass (1995–1999)
  • Labanthorsen "The Torn" Ekeroth – guitar (1995–1999)
  • David "Davey" Quinn – tour bass (2003 US tour)

Discography[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Chart placings, unless stated, are shown are from the UK Indie Chart.[12]

  • State Violence State Control (1982) (#4)
  • The Price of Silence (1983) (#5)
  • The More I See (1984) (#3)
  • Ignorance (1985) (#7)
  • Never Again (1984) (#13)
  • 1980–1986 (1986)
  • Protest and Survive (1992)
  • Vision of War (1997)
  • The Clay Punk Singles Collection (1995)
  • Hardcore Hits (1999)
  • Society's Victims (2004)
  • Demo recording from 1977
  • Limited edition live cassette: Live at the Lyceum (1981) - CHAOS Cassettes LIVE 001, recorded 24 May 1981
  • Live album: Live at the City Gardens, New Jersey (1989)
  • Live album: Live: The Nightmare Continues... (1990) recorded at Tunstall Town Hall, Stoke-on-Trent in 1983
  • Tribute album: Discharged (1992)
  • Tribute album: In Defence Of Our Future: A Tribute To Discharge (1999)
  • Split EP with MG15 (2006)
  • Tribute album: Discharge Tributo (2011) Brazilian bands tribute album.
  • Split EP with Off with Their Heads (2012)
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.