FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 22
THREAT MANIFESTO - DEMO
An undoubted screamfest here that will appeal to the new wave of hardcore fan and leave other sub-genre residents to make up their own minds as to the validity and enjoyability of this quintet of razor-edge rawness.
As with 99% of hardcore the main gravitational pull is towards the power end of the sonic spectrum with all songs no sooner started than rattling headlong to their abrupt conclusions. Amongst this furnace of blazing rage there is some quite excellent musicianship taking place and thus gives insight, and hope, of a band who can throw in a couple of tangents and really shake up the mix.
'Worker Bee' brings up the curtain on this 7 minute 18 second four tracker and instantaneously the scene is set with youthful outbursts inhabiting an electrified oasis of power chords and indefatigable essence. With an appropriate buzzing, and relatively unshackled guitar, the breakneck drums and fervent vocals all combine to make a decent enough impression. 'Set In Stone' is quickly in pursuit and has a more pliant guitar structure but remains urgent with the chasing 'Western Powerhouse Economics' being equally clamourous and pressing finally blooming into the CD's best track. Some good strong moments and an excess of vitality make this a good explosion.
The closing track 'Ode' maintains and stabilises the H/C theme and in truth I would have preferred this latter song to be more adventurous and gone out on a limb in search of some abstract flavour just for the sheer hell of it. It would have given the listener something to think about as well as challenged the artistes which is always a good thing to try. Still an adequate enough track and again we find beneath the apocalyptic fuzz plenty of technical skill.
A good opening account but a fair bit to come I feel. The conclusion is of a good hard-edged outfit who should set themselves and the punters a few posers by chucking in a few unexpected twists and turns as well as trying their hand at a few different styles. They could come out of this suggested experimental phase with some excellent results.
CONTEMPT - WHO NEEDS DIPLOMACY
Hard impact, no-nonsense, blister-inducing punk here as concrete punkers Contempt hammer out 15 heavy duty, politically essenced blasts. The standard is consistently high throughout and this bands years of experience all falls into place to make one helluva CD. The distracters will say say this is punk by numbers saying nothing new, doing nothing new. So fuckin' what! It comes across as genuine, high-fuelled rage and I like it.
'By Any Means' takes no hostages and is a rabble rousing riot that throws a timely fist into the face of the restricting power mad rule makers and the establishment. A capital letter start full of high-power artillery and bruising ammo busting the nose of the lethargic. The knee to the groin comes via 'Cult Of Celebrity' pointing a finger of the fat pig sofa society who are enthralled with the media propaganda machine and the so-called stars (or wankers if you like) found therein. With balls bruised several teeth are smashed out as the albums knock-out blow angrily assaults with venom and salivating disgusting. 'What Kind Of World' is a fuckin' mammoth song and a mental note is made to add this to one of the best I review this year - marvellous.
Staggering under the deluge of these hammer-like blows we are jabbed backwards by the consistent anti-racist rant of 'Make A Stand' and the punky skank of 'War For Oil'. A nice turn of attack and still effective in returning two gems and illustrating Contempt's subtle diversity and attention to the message. 'Trans National Corporation' is the slightly disjointed card in the pack and although a good song I feel there is something lacking. Similar to a Topic Bar without the nuts - still pleasant but short of a complete snack. Maybe it's just me but then it wouldn't be the first time would it ha, ha.
'Break It Down' is basic smash and grab stuff and the vitality carries the song and leads it well into the corking combo of 'Smash The WTO' and 'CS Gas' with both songs being spirited and doused in political petrol.
The 6 track stretch for home starts with 'Fanatic' which is a simplistic chord attack delivered to please the retro rocker. Easily accessible and very catchy, a theme all too familiar throughout this CD. Equally familiar is the '4 line verse, 1 line repeat' technique, a mode open to criticism from today's techno-obsessed young pups but adored by myself for its unpretentious formula and in this instance, the excellent mix of great musicianship and top notch production. The hazy area of what is deemed consistent and what is assessed as similar is bound to come under scrutiny but personally I couldn't give a flying fuck.
'Nuclear Power' is granite rage, 'Brainwashed' a bog standard blast and 'Monarchy' a hate-filled peach lashing into the self-righteous royal trash. 'New World Order' closes and is another electrified rant that caps off a real earthy CD with something for every punk to enjoy.
A strictly British feel runs deep here and this is a definite old school outpouring which I rate highly due to the expressive anger and rabid service. One for the spikey tops to revel in.
ANGRY SCENES - COMPILATION VOL 1
25 tracks divided by 5 equals five bunches of 5 and that's how the review of this mixed punk bag will be tackled by this overworked reviewer looking to maintain the level of effort and attention as well as offer a different style of delivery. Very fuckin' difficult - believe me!
So to the first quintilogy of terror and what better way to start with a true 5 card flush of the most royal kind. 'Drongos For Europe' offer their brilliant style of noise with 'Punk Rock Radio', as good a start as you could wish for and the pursuing 'Timewaster' by relatively new rioters The Restarts' completes a most ideal commencing brace. Both songs are high class and the prile of perfection is complete as 4 Past Midnight chip in with the renowned '4PM Crew'. Wow - talk about making a big introduction - a naked Bruce Forsyth would struggle to beat this - even if he had illuminated testicles. Brum Boys (ooooh nearly a spelling error there - phew) D' Corner Boys produce the fourth cut of excellence with 'State of Hypocrisy' and the lesser known Dive hold their own with the speedy, foul-mouthed eruption of 'Townies Are Wankers'. The nice reggae skank inclusion is bold and effective and rounds off the first 5 offerings superbly.
The next pentapunkodon is alot more harder edged and has a taste that is more acquired and therefore open to more criticism be it positive or negative. Hardcore and Americanised influences seem more prevalent here and for me the two shining moments are the profofessional Epitath-esque This System Kills with 'Red Brick' and the determination of Assert and 'Poisoned Minds'.
The next deal is a mixed hand that kicks off magnificently with Contempt' and their anti-royal megablast of 'Monarchy'. A fuckin' good band here and producing the goods in fine style with one of the now defuncts Kamikaze Sperms better moments 'Suicide' followiing on well. The almost insane ambience of 'Captive' by Cracked Actors is a welcome inclusion and breaks up the urgency of the whole package. The classically entitled Dogshit Sandwich and In The Shit both follow with 'Stinkin' Rich Parasite' and 'Abused' respectively, both tunes dirty punk raves that compliment each other well.
Fleas and lice sinisterly open the next bag of tricks with 'Insane'. A tumultuous speedburst which almost tears the straitjacket from the back of musical coherence. Intention suffer the same bout of madness with 'Military Issue' but both these tracks somehow retain listenability with the overflow of venom and grimy guile. The Nihilists 'Riot' is a very rusty song and is reminiscent of early B-punk with its winning compostion and gutterpunk recording. Nice! The cracking 'Stranded At The Bar' alters the direction and is a superb cut of horn-edged havoc. The accelerated verse breaks most excellently into the incredibly melodic chorus and this is a real winner for Stupid, Stupid, Stupid and Steve - one of the crappest and most memorable of band names. I must make a note though to investigate this lot further. Showdown City complete the hand with the obscure sounding ' Way Out', a track which I suspect isn't the bands best and a noise that just cries out for a full-on production.
WILD TRASH - STAY WILD
4 songs with a final reprise make up this straight forward punk rock EP. Recorded at Voltage Studios, produced and engineered by the busy mitts of Tim Walker, my expectations of a decent sound were had before the initial spin. It transpired I wasn't to be disappointed.
'Crazy World' opens and is a 2 minute 35 second rush of infectious music greeting us with a stadia-style opening before crusting up and pogoing around in tartan colours and gob-flecked joy. Its a celebration, its obviously written with fun in mind and it has no hidden agenda. The fragrance it exudes is heady and 'Picture Of You' increases the intoxication with a similar style of delivery and again with a pleasurable ambience. In fact both these tracks come across as amiable friends that are always good to have around or in this case playing.
A tribute to Bradford bagman and 60 odd year old gig attendee (and pogoer) is the essence of the central track 'Stan'. Yet again it is a 'smiling face' offering with football-style chanting and highly virulent verses and choruses. Guitar twanger Alec takes over vocal duties and main vocalist Kev must be delighted when playing live to take a break and let the capable larynx of this 6-string strummer take over. Great tune and a nice partner for the more eerie commencement of 'The Sun Goes Down'. A moodier piece with heavy bass, sterner guitar and more sombre lyrics. A different nut to crack and cracked it is as Wild Trash throttle the corpse of melody and squeeze out another great track.
The wind down is had with a brief reprise of 'Crazy World' which is a nice touch and definitely the retro thing to do.
A really enjoyable CD and coupled with their other effort (also reviewed on this site) I can only say that this outfit have just earned a new fan. A live performance was also great viewing and although some harsher critics may say 'ooooh dear it's just another punk outfit' my defense would be 'What's wrong with that twat?' - simple really!
TOTAL BLOODY CHAOS - CHAV CENTRAL EP
Packaged in monochrome imagery, blatantly avoiding profound lyrics and boastfully pushing the ‘Do It Yourself’ ethic this is a product that sounds as it is seen. No arty-farty attitude and no pretensions to be ‘different’ Total Bloody Chaos dish out their own concoction of sewer punk and in some way, and quite subtly, pay homage to a noise of yesteryear.
‘Chav Central’ deals with the garbage in today’s society whose sole ambition is to be a bigger dickhead than the next prize prick. It is openly unapologetic punk played by people who are part and parcel of the scene and don’t want to do anything more than keep the whole package dusted with street grime. A good beginning and the classy and emotive ‘Pressured’ follows and is the EP’s best and most cultured moment. The vice-like melodic tension is gradually tightened and the songs consistent momentum is held throughout. Uncannily reminiscent of one of my favourite bands The X-Rippers with its heady inflection and attention retaining vibe. A pom-pom free effort and the modus operandi is held as the bands signature tune ‘Total Bloody Chaos’ is delivered in dirty, basic, boisterous style with an entire unaffected lyric and tune, which I find eases the challenge for the reviewer but also keeps the CD highly playable.
‘No Notice’ rallies the punk defiance and for me compliments all other tracks nicely. Again lacking any extravagance but point must be made of a depth possibly overlooked. I like this kind of piss-basin punk as it truly is the cement of the scene, holding the crowds together as well as being nothing more than just part of.
‘TBC – Unmastered Ruff Version’ brings us to the final fence and is a grand reprise on which to finish. Yeah I like it and there is a plethora of bands out there who should cut the crap and take heed of this simple output approach. Too much technical tweaking and overloaded production isn’t always necessary and evidence of this is found quite smartly here.
SPITEFUL WAY - DEMO
Being entitled 'Rough Demo 2007' encapsulates what we are dealing with here as the mix and production leave a lot to be desired. In fact I am sure many a fat slag has smoother skin on her sperm-infused posterior than the roughness found here.
DANGERS CLOSE - FEAR EP
Last year I was sent an album by this band of whom I had no previous knowledge. It eventually transpired that it was to become one of my favourite CD's of 2007 and the discovery of a really talented outfit led by an awesomely voiced frontlady who is up there with the best. A slot on a SAS gig reinforced my appreciation of this band so obviously the next recording was greatly anticipated. This 3 track EP whets my appetite but leaves me thirsting for more and that is one helluva frustrating sensation.
THE LOVESPUDS - ONE LAST ANTHEM
3 upbeat tinkles tattooed with optimism and branded with consumate professionalism and musically educated forethought this is a dreamy sunshine siesta bursting with summery exuberance and delightful melody.
'Fo-Ho-Sho-Ho' is an absolute masterclass of rhythmic execution and blends a confident skank tempo with a toe-tapping infection quite wonderfully resulting in a potent cocktail to sip and savour at your leisure. Production wise this is spot on with a clarity and spaciousness between each musical contributor so as to give an impressive clarity and effectiveness. A hard opening gambit to follow and the more textured 'One Last Anthem' really is the perfect pursuer with its Green Day-esque undercurrent and moodier moments interspersed with bubbling, indefatigable assaults. This is truly a spellbinding piece of skank and the dedication to Vince Fox (a friend of the band) could not be better as this triumphant sounding celebration is a genuine uplifting effort that raises the spirits with ingratiating ease.
'Iel Guapo' (translating as 'The Handsome One' methinks) closes and completes a trio of sheer class. From the cracking opening fanfare of trumpets to the calypso melodics and brilliantly delivered chorus I feel this band is destined for some major moves this year depending they can play the right gigs and turn the right heads. With such memorable armoury as this they should be really blowing a few lethargic arses out of the water and this CD is definitely one you don't want to miss. This band go right up there on my list of 'Ones To Watch' and on this evidence it should be a glorious feast.
R.A.M-M.A.N - TOXIC HASTE
Bristling with intense guitar, red alert vocals and frenetic drum beats the raging contraption known as R.A.M-M.A.N works on 5 cylinders and blows the aural fuse with the superabundance of electro-energy. Formed in Wolverhampton in 2001 this is the bands first full length blast and despite being a well packaged product the band still exude a DIY ethic which is always a welcome feature.
A major introduction is made with the first 3 tracks as 'Dig Your Own Grave', 'Same Old Rat Race' and 'You Can't Fool Me' plough, without remorse, into the old grey matter and rattle a few intoxicated cells therein. 'Dig Your Own Grave' steams forth with knuckleduster insistence and high octane fervour making it a hefty opener and one which burns the newly raised curtain and sets the stage for the choice 'Same Old Rat Race'. The albums best and most effective eruption with a chorus that is surely a crowd winning chant. The song teases its way in with steady drums and weaving bass. It's not long before the full abuse is upon the listener and in every department RM shine.
'You Can't Fool Me' has moments of brutal aggression and genuine mania but its the duelling vocals that really glisten and show a golden vein of coherent hardcore. A trio of delicious mayhem and 'Fight' completes an excellent quartet of chaotic rage and deliberate savageness. The chorus is a tried and tested formula but a freshness remains here to still make a valid listen.
'Give Us What We Want' drills in after a brief doom-laden bass intro. It's a fair old effort that takes on many guises along the way but the songs overall personality shines through and comes across yet again as a hard muvva-fuckin' bastard. There are some all-inducing moments that suck ones attention dry and mesmerise the brain with fuzz 'n' fuck anger. The neat commencement of 'We're All Criminals' offers brief respite before another speedburst is upon us although the pace is lessened and the song is more restrained than its predecessors. It is perfectly slotted into the mix as the theme was becoming too similar even though of good quality.
'Slaves To Time', 'Toxic Haste' and 'False Hate' hurtle by with equal vigour with the first being totally focussed but lacking variance, the second slice a solid title track with some mean riffology, and the third lacking the ectoplasmic stickiness of previous tracks but maintaining a good level nonetheless. Great fuckin' chant n' rant segment though so leaves a nice taste into the mental gob!
'Morons' drifts by almost unnoticed and takes too many parts from earlier tracks thus losing it's identity. Shame because it is not as bad as the indifference implies. I just feel the CD was ready for a short, quick blast of fiery temper and this one just goes on a little too much. The final curtain is drawn down with 'Death To All', a track not reliant on over-aggression and with a good all-round vibe and thus ending the CD on a high.
Yeah - I like this band and the CD here shows massive potential and good composing talent. The vein doesn't vary enough though and I would suggest R.A.M-M.A.N try a few new tracks for the next offering. Hardcore boys should lap this up as should anyone interest in good wholesome riffs with a bit of meat on the bone. I find it always exciting when a bands first outpouring is of this standard and yet you know there is a whole lot more to come - really keeps the scene buzzing for me. The in-sleeve notes tell a tale of a band with a good attitude too and that is worth supporting as well.
THE MOME RATHS - VAPORIZED MY BRAIN
Bubble-bop-a-shoop-wop-a-ding-dong-do. The opening description just about encapsulates the style of this 17 song quirky-jerky pop fest. Loads of similarities can be drawn here but they all slip into the mire of irrelevance as The Mome Raths inscribe their unique brand of guiltless insanity to each and every hair-brained attack. Young and old will love this from the opening act to the final curtain - what a treat in store.
'I Get Lost' opens and is a typical stroke of poppy-punk genius. Simple, involving and mind-bogglingly catchy with incredibly clear production and a 50's shoo-wop undercurrent that makes the song a cute pip indeedy. The more sinister yet still enthrallingly delightful 'Stranger Danger' follows and has a mad-cap inflection that works well here and leads into the quicker paced 'Soda Pop' perfectly. Everything this sub-genre should be is embraced just brilliantly here as the girly-girl screech and sqawl outbursts work with sincere effectiveness thus making up a patchwork bloom of innocent fun and consuming excellence.
'Can't Make Up My Mind' is again a 100% beauty and at this stage in proceedings I am totally sold on the idea that I am listening to one helluva classic piece of power-pop punk. I adore the aggressive side of punk but equally relish the more merrier approach such as dished out here. In truth, of this ilk, I would struggle to find better. This is an effortless Crayola-coloured, bug-eyed treat pulsating with undadulterated joy, screwball zaniness and adhesive enthusiasm.
'American Werewolf' drips with cliches and regular guitar riffs and any lesser performers would have seriously failed here but The MR machine prove their golden talent by turning an overbaked recipe into a deft prime cut. 'Bubblegum Pop' is a diamond piece and is similar in vein to the aforementioned 'Soda Pop'. A totally amazing speedy bopology, fizzed up with foamy glee which, before you know it, ensnares you with it's tantalisingly catchy melody and then goes into the brillaint 'Vespa'. This song lulls you in without even trying and is one of the albums many subtle highs.
The glowing standard of excellence continues with the staccato groove of 'The Island Of Dr Moreau', the unhinged ravings of 'MacGyver', the rockette twistings of 'At The Salon' and the intrinsic ease of 'Bowling'. This is such a breeze of a CD to review.
'Time Machine' follows the greatly titled theme slant and bursts along with glorious gusto thriving on flashing vibrancy and sweetie-pie backing vocals that drip with corny attitude and joyous cheesiness. 'My One And Only' is a delicious slice of lovey-dovey goo-goo and cupids bow is twanged to perfection with this ditty of adoration. Good wholesome innocent lyrics lacking any unnecesssary foul-mouthed vulgarity - a cool wind blows fine.
'Elwin Ransom' is the albums most disjointed, multi-faceted touch and is a great tangent to trip on with its fractured glass glean and spiky sound. It all adds to the mystery of the fairground crooked house affect with every obscure and angled turn an exciting twist in which to venture. 'My Neighbour Is A Ninja' is a B-Movie manic cruise that has a slightly unsettling shadow that lurks large and adds character to the finished portrait and 'The Creature From The Black Lagoon' is not only a great film but now an incredible song. Lyrically on-the-nail and a real high-powered Gill-man tribute making another cine-song classic that rocks the mental oceans to their very depths.
And so to 'Don't Step On The Mome Raths' and in fear of being repetitive - another fine song. It rounds off the CD nicely and the impression left is tremendous.
I honestly can't find fault with this 17 track offering and stand in awe of a sound that is so startlingly simple but yet so marvellously effective and too often neglected by the scene in general. More hardcore punks may scoff at my leanings towards this style of bop and pop punk but I am quite proud to have been given the chance to review this stunning effort. For me personally the punk aspect is covered as it is unashamedly a fun product without affectation and political or pretentious overtones - and that my spiky haired 'erberts is all I ask. An utter classic that may just be the Fungalpunk album of the year. As Terrorvision once questioned - 'Alice - what's the matter?' On this evidence Wonderland is rockin'!