Posts Tagged ‘Political’

Bloodshed666

Christopher Nosnibor

This Viennese collective describe themselves as purveyors of ‘heavy stuff (crust, sludgemetal, noise rock’ but ‘rooted in diy-anarcho-punk’, and they follow the subtly-titled Shareholder of Shit 10” EP with a 12” picture disc mini album containing five gloriously gnarly blasts of dirty guitar-driven noise.

Much of the appeal of anything that’s crust-orientated is just how grimy and raw it is, and while a few samples cut through with clarity on several tracks here, for the most part, Desolat deliver a set that is little short of a wall of incendiary rage, a snarling, spitting, guttural roar coughing blood and venom against guitars so dingy they positively drip gunge.

If opener ‘Nuclear Extinction to Human Civilisation’ doesn’t exactly sound like a love song, it does probably intimate the band’s perfect misanthropic fantasy, while the title track is the sound of Satan’s innards after a phall. Make no mistake, this is intense, and there’s not a second’s respite at any point: ‘The Bureaucrat’ is a full-throttle sonic inferno that blasts through its three-minute duration at a hundred miles an hour ravaging everything in its path: the guitars a whiplash-inducing blur or fury.

The lumbering closer, ‘Dreams of Slaughtered Yuppies under Starlit Night Skies’, is a six-minute slow-riffing sludgefest that batters away brutally at a simple four-chord trudge. It’s heavy, it’s nasty, and its glorious – which pretty much sums up the record as a whole as it raises a stinking, shit-coated middle finger to all things capitalist and mainstream.

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Chapter 22 Records – 31st March 2021

No question that these are tough times for bands and the grass roots music industry generally. It’s the smaller bands who depend on flogging T-shorts and a handful of CDs at shows who are among the worst affected: they’re not earning royalties from endless radio play, their songs aren’t being used on TV commercials or in film soundtracks, and they sure as hell aren’t covering the rent with Spotify streams.

It must be particular difficult when you’re self-styled purveyors of Revolutionary Punk Roots Rock‘n’Roll whose entire ethos is to never rehearse, but instead achieve tightness through relentless gigging. What’s more, they had just reached a new peak – and a still wider audience – with a tour supporting New Model Army before the proverbial rug got pulled from under their feet. Still, newly-signed to Chapter 22, this, their fourth album, should do their profile no end of good.

Despite what their tag connotes, this – thankfully – is no bog-standard festival-friendly folk-punk knees-up roustabout as favoured by beer-sloshing bozos just looking to whoop it up. There’s substance to Headsticks’ melee which is more anti-folk than folk, while at the same time fuelled by the fury of genuine protest music: as you’d expect from a band who’ve had Crass’ Steve Ignorant guest on a song a few years ago, and with songs like the rabble-rousing ‘Red is the Colour’, they’re left-leaning and unashamedly political. Lately, it seems everything has become political in some way or another, and even fundamental issues like being opposed to racism, or day-to-day issues like wearing a mask in shops and adhering to social distancing guidelines have become politicised, because we live in an insane world. And for that reason, what you might consider to be the more traditional politics espoused by Headsticks is welcome and refreshing. It may sound naïve, but I do genuinely yearn for the simpler times when artists, workers, and all and the oppressed people in society stood together in wanting to smash a scumbag Tory government, instead of the endless shouting that is social media. But if unity is to be regained, music is something that gives us hope. There’s nothing like standing in a room with several hundred people and standing together not just physically, but in solidarity.

Lead single ‘Peace & Quiet’ is representative: you can practically feel the fists pumping in this frenetic punky blast. Across the album’s twelve fast and furious tracks, it’s the Dead Kennedys that often come to mind, largely on account of the ultra-hyped energy, the fact that they sound like a 33 played at 45 for the most part.

Propelled by a piston-pumping drum beat, the high-octane blues blast of ‘Miles and Miles’ is reminiscent of The Screaming Blue Messiahs, while the stripped back, slower ‘Tyger Tyger’ pitches a more emotive experience, laced with strings and contemplation, and ‘Speak Put’ goes full Fugazi, with lyrics adapted from Martin Niemöller’s poem ‘First they came …’ – and it’s powerful.

While kicking against injustice and hypocrisy, Headsticks avoid being overtly preachy, and instead stick to keeping it simple and keeping it lively. It’s a solid approach, and the energy is infectious.

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Christopher Nosnibor

I Like Trains’ emergence from hibernation may be coinciding with that of the nation, and while it’s perhaps to an extent coincidental, one feels that perhaps it largely isn’t. Their latest reinvention has seemingly come out of nowhere, and if their shift from genre-leading purveyors of songs based on historical events, formed as slabs of tremulous post-rock with shattering crescendos, to something rather less dramatic and more direct came by a certain sense of transition, this is a true bolt from the blue.

Crashing in from nowhere with the stark, synth-heavy and highly-political ‘Truth’ to announce the imminence of new album, Kompromat after a hiatus that had looked dangerously like becoming permanent, it was immediately apparent that I Like Trains haven’t so much evolved as metamorphosised.

The band describe ‘Dig In’ as being ‘probably as lean and direct as we’ve ever been’ and continue: ‘There’s plenty to be angry about at the moment, and this is a pure distillation of that. It’s aimed mostly at the campaign managers and ‘special advisors’ who manoeuvre their people into positions of power with little or no regard for the rules. Never back down. Never apologise. Show no signs of weakness.’

‘Dig In’ has a real attack to it, an urgency that’s new. Over a choppy guitar that’s more Gang of Four than anything even vaguely post-rock, and which is welded to an elastic rhythm section with a driving bass, David Martin growls political agitation. No longer jumbling through his beard, there’s even a hint of Richard Butler in the early years of the Psychedelic Furs in the delivery, and perhaps even hints of Post war Glamour Girls, he casts an elevated eye over the world as is, and it’s sharp incisive.

Old ILiKETRAiNS were formidable. Middle I Like Trains were ace. New I Like Trains, with their newfound edge, right now, feel re-energised and essential.

Following on from their 2016 record “You Will Burn”, Scottish hardcore quartet Razor Sharp Death Blizzard have returned with their new album “The World Is Fucked” which is set for release on July 17th. Ahead of this the band have released a video for their new single “Suicide”.

Frontman Jamie Clark had this to say on the track:

“When we write our songs, we almost always write in the practice room. “Suicide” took me by surprise by the intensity of the music. I like to stand in the room with Daz, Liam and Ross going for it so I can feel the song. The music brought out a lot of emotion in me be it anger, be it tearful. The emotion that came was the feelings for suicide I’d had off and on for a number of years and this song really helped me bring things out. I tried to put into word some of the feelings and thoughts I had.

From the crushing self-defeat to the feeling of wanting to through myself from the Newcastle to Amsterdam ferry on my way to and from holiday with my wife and kids. From not knowing what I was feeling, the utter confusion, wondering if someone would help me now that ‘I’ needed help. All things came to a head when we were a couple of weeks away from a European tour and I ended up doing one show and the rest of the guys played as a three piece for the remaining shows. It coming to a head was the best thing to happen. I was able to talk to those closest to me and turn a lot round.

The end of the song says it all and is a mantra I kind of abide by and its was Daz that said it ‘ no matter how dark the night may seem, tomorrow may be brighter’. What advice I try to give is please talk to someone, that first step will take so much weight from your shoulders. It won’t cure you but will give you courage to talk. It really is okay to not be okay. The hardest step is talking to someone but trust me it’s the best step you can take.”

Both tracks can be streamed here:

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Rock is Hell Records – July 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

At the risk of repetition, there are no two ways about it: these are desperate times. No, not unprecedented. Desperate, dire, and fucked-up. The liner notes to BUG’s latest offering, Nunc finis offer a fair summary:

‘Global warming. Trump. Corona virus. New normal. We are living in interesting times. It is one minute before midnight on the doomsday watch. Nunc finis means end of time, end times or end now. And if you buy the ticket, you gonna take the ride.’

Fucked-up times require some fucked-up heavy shit by way of a soundtrack, and BUG bring it in spades here. I for one am immensely grateful: I’ve found myself frequently returning to Calamitas, and Nunc finis brings the same blend of familiar noise rock tropes and uniqueness, with jarring riffs, sludgy low-end and crazed, gruff-throated vocals. Above all, BUG know how to create tension through music, to articulate that tightening of the chest, evoke that clenching of the jaw, the grinding of the teeth.

The opening salvoes leave no doubt that this is a dark album reflecting darkness back in on itself, a tumultuous tempest of disaffection and (internal) conflict. ‘Happy Pills’ kicks off in pretty savage style, a hell-for-leather raging blast of overdriven guitars and angled vocals. You can barely make out a word, but then, the delivery communicates the sentiment, the manic fury. ‘Hell is Empty’ drops down several shades darker toward sludgy doom territory, before ‘Lost Soul’ takes a more conventionally noise-rock turn. It also provides the first softer moments, as chiming guitars effect a more ponderous perspective before exploding into a ragged riff. Exploiting the quiet / loud dynamic, it’s a classic slow-burner that builds to a killer climax.

‘Leftovers’ is a standout by virtue of its sheer brutality, while the seven-minute closer, ‘Hass gegen Rechts’ is positively schizophrenic, switching between a strolling vaudeville waltz and volcanic, earth-shattering blasts of noise, and is everything the album represents distilled into a single gut-wrenching track. It’s intense, alright.

Jolting riffs and stop-start noodles define the structures, to bewildering, dizzying effect: it’s not a regular bludgeoning, but successive left / right hooks, followed by an upper-cut, a headbutt, and a knee in the nuts for good measure. It’s heavy, hard, harrowing, and, ultimately physically and emotionally draining – just as it should be.

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The album, Seaside Donkeys, may have had its release postponed and live launch rescheduled, but lockdown isn’t going to stop Yorkshire post-punk powerhouse Percy from getting their musics to the masses.

‘Will of the People’ encapsulates everything that is Percy in a fraction over three minutes: ramshackle, Fall-esque rattling guitars, a thumping rhythm section, needling synths and sneering sprechgesang vocals with a flat tone and overtly Northern inflection spitting fury at the stupidity of thee masses over Brexit. A band like Percy could only ever come from the north of England. Fact.

It’s a blistering blast of disaffection, and it’s ace. Check it here:

Everyday Life Recordings – 10th December 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Just when I thought I couldn’t love Moderate Rebels any more, they drop a brand new song just in time for Christmas, and landing two days before the most highly-charged and heavily-weighted general election in memory, it’s bursting with anti-government sentiment:

How come there’s always money,

For bombs? But never any

money… For the old, Or the

young, Or anyone… who isn’t

strong?

Beware. Beware of the

cheats. Singing you

love songs, Sing you to

SLEEP.

Boiled down to a simple lyrical repetition, the vocals – airy yet monotone – combine with a sturdy, motorik beat and simple, cyclical chord sequence overlaid with analogue synth tones, it’s an ode to media narcotisation and a nation sleepwalking to its doom, and another quintessential  Moderate Rebels cut. They’re still moderate, and still rebellious, and the fact they’ve chosen to release this now – and only make it available until the end of December – makes a clear statement of where they stand and what they’re rebelling against.

Apparently, they have 30 new songs ready to go, and I both hope and expect that’s 30 more songs of the same as the two albums to date. But they can wait until 2020, when they can be the soundtrack to – hopefully – celebration, or, and it’s a terrifying and gloomy prospect – commiseration.

For now, listen to this on a loop, and use it to hypnotize anyone who’s on the fence or you suspect may be a secret Tory. It’s time to get the bastards out and end austerity. And once again, Moderate Rebels get my vote.

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Buzzhowl Records – 18th October 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

What came first, the music or the mindset? I’m going to put it down to how some of us – myself included – are wired, and will forever be drawn to that tense, dark sound that came out of the late 70s and early 80s that was a reaction to – and against – everything that was happening at the time. Just as punk was a reaction to – and rebellion against – prog and the beigeness of the times, so post -punk and its various strains, including (dare I whisper it?) goth harnessed the frustration and the dejection that was a product of the first years under Thatcher and the political climate of the second cold war and rendered it in a more articulate, and perhaps more musically resonant way (because let’s face it, 90% of so-called punk bands were just playing pub rock with the amps up).

To revisit briefly an observation I’ve made variously in recent years, these are bleak, bleak times, and the future is well out of hand. The post-punk renaissance that began around 2004 with the emergence of Editors and Interpol grew from an underground which was there long before, but now it’s in full spate. Reading’s Typical Hunks fully embrace all of this as a guitar bass duo backed by a drum machine.

The guitar on ‘Snakebit’ is spindly, reverb-heavy, weaving one of those tense post-punk guitar-lines that’s pure Joy Division, and it snakes its way around a tight, insistent bass that booms and drives along with the insistence of the grooves Craig Adams laid down to define the sound of The Sisters of Mercy in the early years. That in turn is wenled to thumping beat that’s a distillation of all things Yorkshire circa 1983-4. It’s all in the programming: nothing fancy, no attempt to make it sound like an actual drummer, no flash fills or flourishes, just a hammering repetition and a snare sound that’ll slice the top off your head. Those Boss Dr Rhythm machines really are unbeatable. The vocals are tense, paranoid, and channel disaffection.

Strains of feedback and a hesitant bass hover before everything locks in around another relentless rhythm on ‘Unravelling’ with elements of March Violets, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, and early Danse Society all spun into a solid block of discomfort. Vintage in its roots yet ultimately providing the soundtrack of the zeitgeist, this is a cracking Aside / B-side combo housed in a suitably barren sleeve, that showcases Typical Hunks at their strongest and most focused yet.

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Saustex Records – 17th May 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

And so the band that is effectively The Fall minus The Man Who Was The Fall-uh, with a name which is a truncation of a Fall album title, deliver a debut album which also bears a title that could easily be a Fall album. As a longstanding fan of The Fall (aren’t we all?) I’ve faced immense conflict over Imperial Wax. My review of their first single was favourable, because unwritten professional obligations somehow and because it was actually good. And actually, the bottom line is that Gastwerk Saboteurs is again good, albeit in a different way and partly because it confounds expectation. But then, what are the expectations? The only expectation of The Fall was that whatever they did, they did, they’d like The Fall. And it wasn’t purely down to Smith’s atonal off-kilter verbiage that this was so: there was something that filtered through that was subliminal, and existed on another level.

So, here we have the debut album by The New Fall. But this does and doesn’t sound like The Fall. For the most part, this is a full-on, no-pissing punk album. It is not a Fall-resurrected album. What do you do with that? The features which defined the band’s final years are all in evidence, and unashamedly here, and on that basis, it’s impossible to sidestep the fact that Gastwerk Saboteurs sounds quite Fall-like in places. But then again, it sounds like a band ploughing hard at a punk-rock furrow with real zeal and loving it.

It drives in fast and hard with ‘The Art of Projection’ which is a straight-on punk effort on one hand, but on the other, it’s got post-punk and a mess of Krauty Fall-iness in the mix.

Prefatory single ‘No Man’s Land’ displayed a heavy Fall influence, but then again, can one rightly describe the band that was The Fall as ‘Fall-influenced’? While some purists beefed that nothing produced their last two decades couldn’t touch anything they did post ’79, ‘81, ‘83, ’85 (because they’ve all got different perspectives and time markers for what they consider the band’s ‘golden age’), the fact is that while they may have settled into a certain groove in later years, if Mark characterised the band with his unique and inimitable vocals, the band backing him, which marked the most stable lineup of their entire career, was a formidable riff-conjuring unit responsible for the music – both its composition and performance. And on that basis, while the closing lineup may not stand as a ‘classic’ in vintage terms, but make no mistake: they were The Fall to the end. But then, they were contractually obliged to sound like The Fall, no doubt. It’s no disrespect to MES that his band should want to cut loose a bit. And Gastwerk Saboteurs finds them cut loose, if only for a bit, kicking out some solid four-chord riffs with sneering attitude.

‘Saying Nothing’ packs a primitive post-punk chop, and there are plenty of fine and overtly unpolished songs wedged in tight here. If anything, it’s the rough ‘n’ ready rawness of this socio-politically-charged album that defines it far more than any musical lineage. It’s a fresh start, and a strong one.

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Modern Technology’s eponymous debut EP got us foaming with excitement the other week, and they’ve now unveiled a video for the song ‘Project Fear’, which pairs the full-throttle guitar abrasion and politically-charged anger with stark, grainy black and white images that seer the retinas. It’s fucking mint, and you can watch it here: