By Ryan Meehan
Following the recent announcement that the classic early-1990s lineup of the insidious INTEGRITY will reunite for A389 Recordings’ tenth anniversary bash this Winter, Illinois-based hardcore purveyors Organized Crime Records is preparing to officially release a keystone piece of the band’s discography in a whole “new” way. Initially released in 1995 via Victory Records, INTEGRITY‘s Systems Overload is one of the most vicious and iconic pieces of hardcore storied lineage, and while countless legions worldwide will forever praise the album it was never presented in the way the band had initially intended. Due to rushed/confused mixing sessions and after countless remixes, the final product that was submitted had buried so many elements and filled it out as a more modern sounding hardcore sound. Last year former INTEGRITY guitarist Aaron Melnick and current guitarist Robert Orr collaboratively took on a mission to bring forth the true vision of what the now iconic Systems Overload LP was to have brought forth initially. By unearthing the initial masters of the extensive recording sessions, the guitarists from two different eras of the band pulled elements of alternate takes of the songs to a new level, incorporating new contributions from both Melnick and Orr with lost solos and divebombs from the initial sessions. The new mix showcases a much more organic and haphazardly raw side of this timeless album — bearing fan favorites like the opening track “Incarnate 365,” the rabid “Armenian Persecution,” the plodding “Jimson Isolation” and the enduring title anthem — the dark, visionary brutality of the initial recording is retained, but the band’s punk and Japanese hardcore influences erupt forth with new vitality. Following their extremely limited Halloween MMXII LP and Record Store Day editions of the A2/Orr+ mix of Systems Overload early in the year, Organized Crime Records will now issue an official LP version of the album; the next in an ongoing series of INTEGRITY title represses already including Palm Sunday, Those Who Fear Tomorrow, the original mix of Systems Overload, the In Contrast of Sin 7″ and more. The Systems Overload A2/Orr+ mix LP comes out next week on three wax color schemes — clear with red swirls, clear blue and white — all including a digital download and liner notes from both Melnick and Orr on the process of putting the album together. Long-running Revelation Distribution is the official distributor of all Organized Crime Records releases. Classic lineup members Dwid Hellion and Aaron Melnick are our guests today in 5 Questions.
RM: Dwid, I read an interview with you where you said that you “found the G.I.S.M. and Septic Death tracks and accompanying artwork to be life altering” for you. When I look back at a lot of Integrity’s work (particularly “Humanity is the Devil”) there is some extremely intense art that went along with it. Did you always have a visual idea of what you want the cover of a certain record to look like before the music and lyrics to the record were even written…Or did you feel that they developed in more of a simultaneous fashion?
DH: When I was 13, I purchased the PEACE/WAR compilation and those 2 bands really stood out for me. With Humanity Is The Devil, we were graced to have the legendary artist, Pushead draw the cover artwork. It turned out incredible and it was a great honor to work with this incredible talent.
For each record, the artwork would vary, some I would create, some others would create. Aaron also contributed paintings and artwork for some of the early Integrity releases. To answer your question, I had a vague idea of what I would have liked for each record and more often than not, I was pleasantly surprised at the end results when other artists contributed.
AM: Dwid always did most of the artwork/layouts for the records I was involved on. That being said, I do remember the nights at Kinko’s in the beginning setting up stuff with him but it was more like me just watching him put together collages and layouts.
RM: Other than the fact that it’s a classic hardcore record, what made you decide to re-release “Systems Overload” and what was the main thing that you wanted to bring out in that album as opposed to what the original mix sounded like? What kind of medium was the original album recorded on?
DH: This is a question better suited for A2, as He and Robert Orr did the remix of Systems Overload . . .
AM: It was actually pretty Rob Orr driven. He had pulled the raw tracks from the original 2 inch tape and told me he had a mix he was playing around with. He came over my house and we tweaked it a bit for my tastes and we had some beers and mixed them down. Rob was the one who cleaned it up and made and mixed things more clearly.
RM: How did the whole idea of “The Church of Holy Terror” come about? Does it surprise you that there were people who took it seriously?
DH: The ideas of Integrity, both musically and lyrically never meshed with the genre that we were lumped in. Holy Terror was the concept and moniker that alleviated us from being blindly categorized with hardcore bands.
AM: Its a messed up world out there, I think Dwid created Holy terror as a mirror of the worst aspects of human nature. Musically, I think Integrity was not your typical HC band as we leaned more towards a dark sound.
RM: When people look back on your career, what is it that you hope they will view as Integrity’s greatest contribution to the music community?
DH: I hope that they despise our reflections.
RM: What’s up next for you guys in the remainder of 2013 and the beginning of 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about? Are there any other projects you’re excited about working on?
DH: Integrity will perform a concert with the Systems Overload lineup at the A389 annual festival in January 2014.
AM: Integrity is doing this show in January 2014 with a lineup that played together a lot in the early 90s. Also, myself and Chris Smith’s (the other Integrity guitarist for this show) other band Inmates might do a tour of Australia in the spring as well.
Integrity on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/INTEGRITY.HT
Original Video for “Systems Overload”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUWiaMipuHg
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