Posts Tagged ‘old-school’

22nd of April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

I can’t help but think of Stewart Home’s riotous 90s novels with wild tales of skinhead antics around London penned in parody of Richard Allen’s seminal pulp youthsploitation ‘Skinhead’ series of novels from the 1970s when I see ‘Sta Prest’. In Home’s early novels, there’s a skinhead dropping his Sta-Press trews to receive a blowjob every ten pages, and it’s high comedy and the pages are infused with the sounds of punk rock and ska.

Essex snappy-dressers Sta Prest can genuinely claim to have been there, having started life in the 1970’s. Their return after a LONG time out follows the retrieval off their demos from ‘78 from the vault at Abbey Road Studios.

Back in the day, they only released a brace of singles, with a retrospective compilation emerging in 2010, and it’s only now that they’re finally getting to release their debut album proper, Shadow Boy, with ‘Keep Drinking’ being the first cut released to the world.

They describe it as ‘a modern drinking shanty’ and it’s a rough and ready, choppy, jaunty slice of punk that sounds like the school of 78, only with references to conference calls at lunchtime;’ and various other contemporary markers. Ultimately, as much as it’s a shanty or a punk rock tune, it’s an anti-capitalist, anti-organisational song that’s delivered with a fist-pumping energy. And the sentiment – the desire to ditch it all and fuck off down the pub – is timeless. It’s energetic, it’s fun, it’s relatable, and I’ve got time for one more.


Sta Prest - Artwork

21st June 2021

Black Angel emerged four years ago, and released Kiss of Death in July of last year – an album that brought together Matt Vowles’ years of experience from being in and around the goth scene to recreate the spirit of 1985.

This time, Vowles and co have come out with a concept album for their third outing, which is ‘inspired by cinematic classics such as ‘Dracula’ (Gary Oldman-1992) and ‘Interview with a Vampire’ with contemporary inspiration on tracks like "Alive" and "Give It To Me’" from the modern aristocratic sophisticated vampires in ‘Underworld’.

The album’s concept, the blurbage explains, is ‘to take you on a journey. The record starts out with an introduction to set the tone and to put you in 10th century England. As our protagonist embarks on his pillage through the town, we hear screams from the villagers as they run for their lives. He’s the Prince Of Darkness and causes chaos and mischief wherever he goes’.

There’s a fine line between artistry and pretence, theatre and corn, and despite the concept that veers towards an amalgamation of all the clichés of goth distilled into a dozen tracks, Prince of Darkness once again nails that vintage goth sound, with ‘Alive’ melding the energy of early Mission with the mechanised drumming of The Sisters to create a swirling cyclone of tripwire guitars and gloom with a glint of joy.

The energy is sustained across the bulk of the album, and the vibe is very much a muscle-flexing dominance, delivered with a big, ballsy swagger: there’s a hefty whiff of testosterone and a barrel load of rock god posturing going down here, but it’s delivered with a knowing nod ‘Live to Love’ is a proper old-school rock ‘n’ roll stomper with a smoky vocal growling and grizzled over a piston-pumping beat and a wonderfully insistent bassline that nags away at a repetitive motif. It’s got that level of grab that immediately makes you want to stick the whole album on repeat, especially after ‘Turn Around’, which pushes the quiet / loud dynamic with a searing guitar line that’s right in the vein of The March Violets – it’s that flangey reverby chorus thing.

Vowles has some depth, and range, too – on some tracks, like ’Call the Night Part II’ he showcases a grainy croon reminiscent of Mark Lanegan, and it’s heavy timbre is well-suited to such expansive epics, and then again, on ‘Secretly’ we see a more soulful, even tender side, and ‘My Love’ goes all out for the heart on sleeve grand gesture. It’s theatrical, but at the same times feels emotionally sincere, and while the melody bears similarities to ‘The Scientist’ by Coldplay, it sounds like it’s being sung by James Ray, and it’s quite moving in a brooding, gothy way.

Throughout, the songwriting is solid, with guitar hooks galore and a taut rhythm section that forges that classic goth groove. There’s a clear lineage from its predecessor in that Prince of Darkness is very much old-school goth delivered with a subtly contemporary twist, but it sounds and feels more confident, more ambitious, and not just on account of its embracing an overarching concept. Prince of Darkness is the sound of a band really hitting their stride, and achieves the perfect marriage of concept and execution.