FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 1
REBEL CONSPIRACY - THE DAMAGE DONE
A localish band to me who played their first ever gig on the Spit and Sawdust Tour which was utterly to my delight. This is a tight knit trio who are improving in the 'live' arena with every show. It is 90% hardcore but retains a firmish grip on the more regular fast blast side of things with influences of more restrained punk thrown into the mix. Bloody good lads these who don't piss off after playing their set and are always willing to support others. They recognise punk for the hard slog it is and are under no illusions about making it big or being a major player. They do what they do for enjoyment and already they are onto a winner with me. Just because a band doesn't have pretensions or illusions of grandeur doesn't make them any less relevant.
NECK - COME OUT FIGHTING
Peddled as 'London-Irish Psycho Ceilidh' this is a style of music that I have never been overly taken with but here have been thoroughly transformed and reckon this is the best of the lot from this emerald stained sub genre. Don't misread me though as I don't loathe this style of shindiggery it is just that I can take it or leave it but here please believe me when I state it is a very big case of 'Take, Take, Take'. The first two numbers are totally convincing examples of jig and swig brilliance and the band do as they say with the opening number of 'Come Out Fighting'. Gritty urgency, a forthright belligerence and an utter refusal to do anything less than impress the Neck crew go at it full tilt with whistle, banjo, drums, guitars and gobs all making a fine end noise. Uplifting and full of guts this is how a CD should start - in yer face and full of sanguine belief. Up for it, we are reeled in with the marvellous piss up party piece 'Everybody's Welcome To The Hooley'. A marvellous one, two combination with this repeat and win festive frolic that hits every sonic sensory organ and gets those jigging muscles twitching. The complete saturation of the sonic arena makes this splendid listening and is the most obvious area where Neck succeed both here and throughout the rest of the CD. Utterly all-consuming with a wild abandon branded deep within the epidermal layer of this fine beer swilling triumph. The drums add a complete nervous agitation and if you sit still to this you are either loaded up on Opium or dead.
'McAlpines Fusiliers' is a song more typical of what this type of band should shove forth. Heavily gritted, passionate intent and with the whole spectrum of darn good Irish punk and roll all functioning with entire gusto and reeling conviction. You have to take time with this when reviewing so as to appreciate each individual component, but even if you ain't carrying out an analytical process it is still worth adopting a careful consideration to all players now and again. The rest of the time you can pour yerself a beer, say 'fuck it' and dance until your hearts content - marvellous. I am impressed thus far but the next song takes my feet from beneath me and is definitely the zenith of this entire offering. 'Tink' is a beautiful message of love and written with flamboyant attention and sincere adoration. The verse is eased along and one is happy but the build up to the chorus promises something very, very special and although awaiting a disappointment by a mere breeze of flatulence the blasting gusts that come forth are of gargantuan proportions. The heartfelt conviction and drenched downpour of an open heart is both enthralling and emotionally enticing. A magnificent moment and I am already thinking 'Song of the Year' for 2010 - that's how good it is. Consider the fairy dust sprinkled.
Now then, the next one is the slow, meandering style of this genre that has me at loss. It’s that kind of reminiscing, teary eyed moping that I really have to be in the mood for, which is, as you may have guessed, not very often. 'The Home Of Donegal' has all the heart-warming, fireside inflection that warms the cockles and massages the muscles (good hey) and will win favour when the gig is done and its time to ponder the homeland. I should really give it to Neck er in the neck but why should I? Just because my boat is a grumpy one why should I try and sink one with obvious subtle, yet buoyant artistry and blatant passion. I won't, and I'll go so far as to say loads of punters will like this - how’s that - fair enough I'd say. Moving on we get to the punked up and enthusiastically spicy 'The Star Of County Down'. The opening swathes of cutting guitar get me turned on and tuned in with little persuasion and I am all ears as a granite concoction is chiselled out by this hefty outfit. Very much a case of more 'spuds in the pan' this one which boils over with foaming conviction. 'I Turn My Face To The Four Winds' drifts with haunting fogginess that gently enshrouds before leashing forth its own galloping horses of the Ceilidh apocalypse. This one labours a little too long for me and despite having a fondness of sound that unsettles with insidious comfort it just leaves me trailing behind with the assessing pen. Perhaps my least favoured of the lot - prepare to disagree - I am more than expecting it - sorry folks.
Back to party mode and my preferred mood. 'Hey Jakey' tumbles and rumbles in equal measure with a full-house/last orders mad dash expulsion full of ruddy faced smiles and passionately perspiring brows. From the first opening burst we know we are in for a joyous shindig and we are not sold short. Mind you if you take the strain of this song you won't be reeling around the bar but will prefer to hop about with yer chums at the local park. Get yer cans and swollen red noses set to all systems go - the night ahead may be cold but the melody here is most surely cosy. 'The Lilting Banshee Set' is a green and flowered instrumental with 'diddly' utterances almost borne from the lungs of a mischievous elf. Stamina is tested here as you'll need to dance on with this swinging sound. The build up is gentle but noticeable and if the bevvies have flowed you'll not be sitting still. A solid piece, played to perfection with the usual spirit/s flowing.
5 to go and 'I'll Still Be Blue Over You' sways along with that kind of soft eyed balladesque style some rock along to and some just retch to. It ain't my chosen pint of puke but I can see the appeal. It is a nice listen I suppose but again another that leaves this festering grump standing behind in the minority where my punk spirit finds comfort (twat or what). In truth, if you are loving this album you'll love this and the orchestral feel towards the close is impressive. 'Ourselves Alone' is straight back to what I dig and is a full on tumult saturated with stunning sonica that magnetises my attention and obviously that of other lovers of the incessantly swinging overdose that these lot are so blindingly adept at prescribing. The male/female vocals thrive here in an ocean of splendid noise and that is what appeals most. Excited, fidgety and still rhythmic this one gets better with each spin and with each increase of the volume button. No sooner is one breath caught then many more are needed to keep abreast of the sweeping flood of 'Barney Hare'. Fuckin' hell you gotta be quick to follow this but having done so during many spins I have no niggles. This one is slotted into position quite sweetly and lets you know this CD ain't letting up for one minute. Another that grows in stature and precedes a total beauty known as 'Always Upsettin Somebody'. I like this because during my years of punk I could almost embrace this as a Fungal signature tune ha, ha. Opinions and punk don't mix it seems - so much for fuckin' honesty hey! Anyway that's a different tale but this is a captivating crystal polished up and still with plenty of sharp edges that elevates the interest level but gives pleasure by the bucketload. A chorus to cuddle too and of course to fuckin' join in with.
The finale comes via a commencement of something akin to that TV series 'Kung Fu'. Now I like grasshoppers (no, the insect kind) but never really took to the TV show. Thank fuck this finale entitled 'The Foggy Dew' has more character. This is a semi-narrative that soon gets on with the job of rousing the rabble with lyrics steeped in knowledgeable history which isn't my strongest subject. There ain't a very lot I can add to this only that it is a more than capable closure, contains all the usual adornments the Neck squad position so effectively and has plenty of clout and spirit. Come on now - if you've stuck through the review thus far you should be able to suss this on your own.
So what is the final Fungal estimation. Well, I am struggling to think of any similar bands who have made such a striking impression and am equally struggling to think of an album of this ilk that works so well. There are a couple that I don't swallow too well but the rest are easily consumed by a provoked appetite for Irish punk and roll fodder. There are no reasons that I can't recommend this unless you come straight out of Awkward College with a 1st Class Degree in Misguided Ears. A solid effort with some exceptional highs - have a go and let me know what you think!
TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET - THEY CAME FROM THE SHADOWS
Teenage Bottlerocket are class - nuff said and in truth I could end the review there and wouldn't be far from the analytical bulls-eye. Alas I like to give bands a bit more time and as this is my daughters CD I better be as straight as ever. I am a fan of this band as well as The Lillingtons and so before even spinning am looking to find numerous positives. This can be a hindrance though as I will still maintain the usual Fungal honesty and so the negative can be over-stretched to compensate for the glorified gushings I could unknowingly type forth. Hey ho - such are the knots I tie myself in trying to be unbiased, straight and Fungally judgemental - paradox par excellence!
The opening three card trick here is fuckin' marvellous and really hits all the expected highpoints that TBR having me envisioning. 'Skate Or Die' twinkle toes onto the melodic board and takes us around the rhythmic basin with amazing execution with attention to knocking forth a rattling good number at the fore. The vocals stay clear, the unit works in tight unison and the pace is just perfect for this strain of sonica. No sooner has the song ended than we are delivered a superbly youthful piece of snubbed love via the delicious sing-a-along 'Don't Want To Go'. Try not getting involved with this one punkers - all the trimmings for essential popology are there for all to see and hear with Teenage Bottlerocket pulling out all the necessary stops to make this yet another gem. The vocals are swaggered but tinged with bitterness that compliments the ideal flow of this song to a tee. The taut string melodies that cut in here and there are sublime and this one vies with the preceding track for the best on the album. Mind you the ensuing track 'Bigger Than Kiss' kicks real fat arse into action and the opening thrust with the mean intent and space rocket boost hits the lugs with big, big impact. We have a brief respite before the lead gob of Kody leads us into a cracking mix of high voltage urgency that shows a band who know no limits. Punk from all corners of the crusted craphouse can get dragged into the fray here and should come out sweetly bruised by the bands brilliant rhythms.
'Do What' is a jerky quirky number that takes a little acquiring to. This, in some ways, is no bother because if all songs have an initial amazing impact one usually finds they have on their hands an album that has no real longevity. The more 'in yer face' melodies get you hooked but in the background songs like the 4th one here are growing within the cerebral cracks. Slowly and surely this gets better and the composition may not be as orthodox as the usual TBR output but I like this one quite a bit. The pace is middling, bordering on the edge of speeding, but a nice withdrawal from a surge is had and the chopping segments make a choice opponent for the freer flowing chorus cuts. 'Not Ok' twings and twangs and becomes mental manna that gushes into the ear and tap-dances in the noggin with rattling rhythm and smiley face joyousness. All the attributes of a sensational pop and skate crew are more than apparent with the end execution of an enthusiastic melody absolutely hitting the target zone. 'Forbidden Planet' adopts a more obscure stance that has a sci-fi comic-book spectrum more familiar with The Lillingtons. This wouldn't have looked out of place on the classic 'The Too Late Show' and has a few space age guitar melodies reminiscent of a computer on overload. The tale of doom is shot through with a brief but deliciously apocalyptic chorus that is a definite juicy power pop moment. The closure comes with a final spurt of life from the haywire guitar and we almost segue into the disillusioned 'Call In Sick'. This song cuts deep with hard power chords that hack away behind sub-furied vocals and unhinged drums. It is a strong piece for TBR and I am fuckin' loving it. There is a resentment below an already frustrated surface and the entire approach is unsettled. The fact that it is followed by a semi-erect dabbling in hardcore/popcore intercourse enhances both blasts highly and once again with every listen these two eruptions become more and more impressive. This latter track known as 'Fatso Goes Nutzoid' is a tale of insecurity and despite the somewhat humorous title has an insight that many will be able to relate to and I am sure feel the ability to say ' fuck it' to as well. Personally if you are a fat bastard or a stick insect I say get out there and get punking - this scene has no prejudice (well it fuckin' shouldn't do) and is for all - so get out there and pogo.
'Without You' pangs with ardent rhythm and tones of regret. A mellowish moment that evens out and stays on a pleasing flatline to the final pulse. 'Tonguebiter' does have more chomp but remains true to the pop punk cause with a likeable end noise that retains spittle and spite but doesn't offend. These latter two efforts seem within the TBR comfort zone and so get less notice than when the band seem to stretch themselves and drain their own composing juices dry. Still good foodstuff for the fans appetite and 'Be With You' gets back to the bigger portions with tuneful pace and expected articulate simplicity that does the job in hand and leads into the more challenging 'The Jerk' with accomplished aplomb. Keep singing along here and this effort just completes a 4 track cruise one should really take more time to peruse. In these days of CD shuffles and mix and match play lists I'd recommend playing this 4 track segment before the rest of the album to ease yourself in gently and give the efforts a little bit more attention.
'They Came From The Shadows' is filled with steamrolling drum speed, lyrical paranoia, clichéd riffology typical of this mode of musicl. You can't fault it really and this band are most definitely masters of their art. The sonic brushstrokes are uncomplicated yet always create a colour scene of noise one can't help but stand back and admire. We close here with 'Todayo' a song that delves into love and has many uncertainties and emotional difficulties amidst a scene of awkward happiness and youthful insecurity. You know the script by now and it is a more than capable closure.
Teenage Bottlerocket apply their trade and do it so successfully as to be almost annoying ha, ha. They keep a firm grip on their little nuances and idiosyncratic outpourings to make everything readily identifiable even when switching vocalist. They have captured a formula that in truth is bastardised Ramones, but the band do what they do so well so as to evade criticism. Each rhapsodical snippet blows fresh and true and I see no reason why they have to change what they are doing. Having said that, change is vital in any bands lifespan so as to challenge both the players and the punters - so the band can make up their own minds. Here however, TBR occasionally dabble beyond the expected and I like the result which, as a matter of fact, I suspect you will too.
3 MINUTE WARNING - TRAMPS JACKPOT
Alas 3 Minute Warning have parted ways and that had me thinking shall I go ahead with this review of a CD you can still pick up but from a band no longer that needy. Its on Do The Dog label, I fuckin' like it and hey if the band need to sell any to make a bit of coin then why not indeed? I missed this when first released and picked it up as part of a DTD sale and shall thus review as I am kind like that ha, ha. I won't fuck about here and keep this one neat and tidy.
'Weekend Waster' comes first and is a select skank of high quality with a distinct texture. The initial bursts are joyous and get that skanking dancing nerve twitching for action. The keyboards are retro in inflection and swing a merry rhythm. The bass threads its way throughout the weave of the song and the drums and guitar gloss up the final sonic finish. The six string work here isn't typical ska and has a strong mincing influence on the overall weight of the song which pushes it further towards the pool of punk than one would expect. The chorus is upbeat and built on overflowing enthusiasm which is ideal for this, and any other genre for that matter. 'The Ripper' is a tale of escapism and whips one along with spirited zeal. The meat on the bone is fresh and exudes a juice of intense flavour and nourishing noisiness. The six strings are swiftly stroked, the vocals sub-shouted, the keys consuming and the bass busily consistent. There is more going on here than one thinks and the incessant rush just takes you along for a pleasant ride and leaves you just flat out of breath. A good song that precedes the awkward 'Anti-Social Day' which exudes strong character and a semi-calypsotic vibe rammed full of confident playing and individual contributions. A hard one to assess this with many layers all intermingling and leaving a nebulous mish mash of sonica to splice, dice and write about. There are no obvious flaws and the melody may not be appealing as other tracks on this CD but I am still reluctant to give all out praise. See what you think!
'Sussed Out' smacks of professionalism with the whole knitting together of each and every component done so with expertise and seemingly off the cuff aplomb. The change of vocal style from chorus to verse is sublime and gratifies with comfort. One of my favoured tracks for sure although the opening track is still to be licked. This chorus is special though and just hits the right sonic hotspots within the ready rockin' soul. Swept forward with bristles of swift skank 'TV Is On' effervesces before hitting the early 80's pop chart styled chorus that won many over with its apparent naiveté and extra special catchiness. There is a choice sound captured here that has been around for years but which one cannot precisely pinpoint. I like that and anything that befuddles for no reason whatsoever gets a Fungal thumbs up. A delightful melody and with yet more ebony and ivory success this one does indeed equal the opening burst in stature and transparent appeal - beautiful. Dropping into a different zone the brow is furrowed and an alternative intensity is had as 'Arsonist' singes and sears with deliberate musical matches. There is very much a sharp focus here and some fucker is going to party and party hard at that. It is the passion that wins the day and all areas perspire as the heat is turned up and the song sizzles with blatant energy. The pre-blow-out excitement is caught, set aglow and set free for all to bask in - a cute touch glorified by emotion. 'Hangover' is a mouth-watering winner that just can't be left alone. Every aspect of this song succeeds and the band triumph big time with their own individual sound emboldened and the true talent exposed for all attentive lugs to gorge upon. This is a big tune with big ideas and for me I reckon they are all realised in a solid sub 3 minute burst. I have played this CD many, many times and am enjoying it more and more with this latter tune becoming a personal fave.
'Lost Cause' sidewinds in with the now expected artistry. A good band flowing freely are the thoughts at this point and with a slightly more disjointed composite I would be a total twat to criticise anything. Religion gets a dig and the inner rant of 'God can't save you because he's on the dance floor' will have many a noodle whipped up into a flurrying hysteria ha, ha. Loving it! 'In Yer Face' is bog standard but the style and delivery of 3MW raise it from the potential dead and give the song life. The vocalist has a certain open inflection that seems full on but retains clarity. It's the shortest song on the CD and closes with a sweet tinkle that rounds off a piece capable of holding its own with all preceding efforts. There is a definite swing going on and I guess many will wanna ride - go on - one big push now! The chapter scripted thus far is full stopped and signed off with the convincing 'Can Of Worms'. A sonic build up that is brief before the rally call of huge proportions is thrown our way. This song could have been the opening number and set the scene for a good fuckin' effort but the fact that it comes as a closure gives us nothing less than a perfectly positioned climax of high excitement. The message is simple - 'Stand up, be proud, fight back and..........fuckin' skank whilst yer at it'. Words I totally agree with and anyone up for resistance gets my vote.
So 3MW have come, gone and left behind their music to mull over. Look there ain't any reason at all why you shouldn't get this and just enjoy some good tunes and support a fine labels cause. That is all I can say and if that ain't persuasion enough then cut your genitals off.
ZOO PARTY - RE-FUSE
Some Swedish pop-punkers here who repair some of the damage done to our lugs by the country's most famous export Abba (who actually were bloody good at what they did even if you like it or not). Anyway, I didn't know what to expect here and after examining the sleeve notes and seeing that Glen Matlock and Brian James had been pottering away with the gonads of the guitar my curiosity was aroused further and my musical member solidified somewhat. Anyone who knows me though will know that I hold no favour with 'names' and such, thus realising they are quite capable of contributing to the crapheap like the next player in the pipeline. So let us see shall we and uncover whether or not we have a stonking Swedish sausage on our hands to savour and promote or just another trembling turd to turn our noses up at and swiftly flush away.
The first stroke of 'Bring The Bored' is escorted at once by the first line of vocalisation and the immediate reaction is to embrace the enthusiastic ambience and pop filled zeal. The main winning aspect so soon is that the output sounds fresh, breezy and void of any clamorous cobwebs that occasionally hinder the end outpouring. Chorus and verse are kept trimmed and like a well-fitting pair of undies there is no scrotal sonica on show thus making for a very pleasing pouch of melody indeed. I like this entrance very much and am a keen believer in the first cut being the deepest. This has gotta be a fans favourite and I suspect wherever ZooParty end up this is a song that will always be called for as an encore winner.
'C'mon' gnaws away at the mental wires and short circuits us into attentive mode making us take worthy note of the blue light guitar work amidst a pulsating, somewhat pecking chorus that comes first between orthodox versage. The whole concoction blends sweetly with old-school trimmings draped over the entire tuneful tree. 'General Cutter' is less insistent in construction and relies on a somewhat bounce and bop flow that chops into each chorus before adopting a simple but effective style. I'm liking the breathing room here between each component and the end lucidity makes for a gratifying listen. The execution is easily carried out and it is obvious that this crew are intent on catching butterflies of melody rather than moths of mayhem.
'Insane' adopts the typical pop routine with a solid tune replayed over a shortish distance with lyrics at a precise minimum. What Zoo Party bring to the table is their own identity and some guitar inflection that reeks of when punk had a certain subtle power built on cute riffage and end production. Nowhere is this more than apparent than during the brief chorus - adorn yourself with a cloak of 77, cover with a scarf of modern day studio time and breath in the melody. These are minor marvels to just enjoy and not read too much into. Its music and darn nice music at that - quintessentially basic but mightily attractive and without any excess baggage - I suggest you take a piece and chew long and hard. 'The Nevers' begins with a riff many will say they have heard before (you know the kind of noise) before the ZP zone of tone is cruised into and we are once again just persuaded to dip into the rhythmic river and have a jolly old swim. Once again 'annoying simple' is a phrase that springs to mind but I am more than ready to realise there is an artistry in producing this king of punk puke and can only advise the band to retch on. It may be an easy expulsion but very colourful nonetheless and not a style anyone can take to. Fungal's liking it and that my pop punking perverts will do for me.
I love the gush that welcomes us at the start of 'Neat Freak'. The change in intensity is cut-throat but still retains that intrinsically basic composition technique that true punkers should really appreciate. I could be awkward here and assume the identity of a self proclaimed musical critique and say 'oooh missus what a short burst of nasty discordance - surely any fool with a guitar could write that'. Yeah you know the twats - too many to mention. Anyway if I did view this through those pebble-dashed peepers I would truly be a cretin not worthy to write this or any other review for that matter. Look readers - the fact is this is good stuff and if you can't get off to this then just forget it. This 1 minute 31 second thrust is deliberate and aching with zeal - turn it up, turn it up.
'Intro' is just an industrialised mini-statement that leads us into the very capable 'We have The Right To Know What's Wrong'. A mean emotion comes at us here with a first verse depth different to all that has gone before. This questioning piece pokes and prods at religion and life in general and comes out seemingly bewildered with a sense of things unanswered. We can all relate to this and we call enjoy it too as the chorus goes into the usual light, heady mode oh so familiar at this stage. A nice rock 'n' roll clichéd ending rounds things off nicely. The best song of the lot (perhaps) comes next with 'Raised On Boredom' one to please the crowd and to get a unifying sing-a-long party in full fuckin' swing. The guitar punctuations between each chorus line are sanguine and somewhat triumphant - 'its like are you ready for this or what?' A pleasant instrumental snippet comes in briefly and cements both sides of the song into one glowing rock - easy ain't it? Amazingly the tracks on here that hint at anything Damned-ish are the next two that don't suggest Brian James has had any tinkerings with and are entitled 'Criminals Police The Criminals' and 'Laying Low Is Not What We Do'. I say Damned-ish but it is only the opening bursts that hint at such influence with the former glancing tones of a certain 'Neat' song and the latter having opening vocals sounding similar to early Vanian efforts. Maybe it’s me but those are definite aural sensations that are apparent but should in no way deflect from what Zoo Party offer our way. The crash, bang, wallop commencement of the first of this duo is held in check by a restrained mode of verse that slips into an opposing chorus that works a fuckin' treat. Almost quirky in essence but very punk rock so thumbs are raised upwards with assuredness. The second track is less hustle and bustle and has a certain melodic Joie de vivre that is prevalent throughout most of this CD to be honest. I reckon the nail is hit on the head there and the combination of this, meaty tuneage and some choice orchestration makes this a first class pop punk trip.
The closure is 'Die' (quite apt hey) but this CD in no way snuffs it and seems to be living life to the full right up to the final curtain. The lyrics are detracted statements that sum up the vagueness of life and the zest we all have hidden within our tortured yet optimistic souls. A harsh realisation is overcome with belief and hearty ebullience and the winning post is past to a round of applauding punkers.
Well there you have it - a Swedish sing-a-long with no nudity and only one reference to Abba (ok make that two). At first I was really unsure of this but again it goes to show in music 'first impressions do not last'. This is an overseas delight you should chase down and indulge to. The effervescent nature of the CD and the quick pulse it has make for a good listen so go on - spend your 'Money, Money, Money 'and play this loud and e-mail the band a simply say 'Thank You For the Music' - (shite make that two now three and four)!
AXIS OF ASCENDANCY - 1982 - 1990 RECORDINGS
From 1982 to 1990 Axis of Ascendancy immersed themselves in the world of sonic grime and tried their utmost to voice their ethical opinions and anti-establishment verbology. The approach was typical of its time and relied more on spirit and passion rather than high class production and affected posing. The monochrome visions were plentiful as were the CND, anarchy and equality logos. With the malevolent nuclear mushroom always on the cusp of sprouting forth the times were testing and especially of the patience of these disgruntled youths. This collection embraces all the rawness, naiveté and honest belief of the band and in fact, the punky generation in general. Time has taken its toll on some of these recordings but the ethos and drive that made these 'erberts get off their arses is still as relevant today as it has always been and it would be could to see this rage and refusal replicated on a bigger scale. So the judgement and assessment of this CD follows with care not to be too harsh against the modern day progression of the punk movement. In some ways we may have gone forwards but hearing this perhaps we have taken a few steps back too - lets see shall we.
So 42 tracks to attend to with a varying degree of recording levels to overcome. Some are distinguished by the genre and the era and the odd one has failed to survive the 'live' arena and ended a cacophonous corpse that offends. We open with 'War Of Ignorants' - a spittle soaked piece of nastiness that drum rolls in with a steady march before resorting to a battering orthodox style that raves rabidly and takes no prisoners.
Track 6 entitled 'Condemned To Destruction' wasn't on the aforementioned EP and it is just as well. It is in fact total dross and completely un-listenable. This was a sign of the times and bands threw everything out that they possibly could and in some cases made big mistakes. I am sure though this wasn't actually released (thank goodness) but is just added here as a nostalgia trip for fans and avid collectors. If anybody out there disagrees with my opinion of this track then medication can be sent to you almost immediately.
The next release by AOA was another 5 tracker called 'Who Are They Trying To Con' which came to the shelves and merch counter in 1985. A noticeable up-turn in quality is had here and the band have undoubtedly progressed as far as musical nouse and output goes but still remain as vicious and as unsettled as ever. The title track builds in with industrial fuzz before the screeching zombified ravings are upon us. We step forth, as expected, into a hotbed of questioning fury with the main edge of the song at the throat of the controlling powers. 'Duty And Honour' makes a musical mug of our countries signature tune before somersaulting into a turbulence that sometimes trips up on its own zeal. The song is issued forth with disregard for toe-tapping melody and remains hellbent on sticking to the dirty, hardcore route no matter what. 'Germ Warfare' slots into the slipstream and batters bones with an untidy initial assault that soon gives way to a red-eyed frenzy where control is only just maintained. The title is screamed with tonsil-tearing intensity and just about sums up this batch of belligerence. 'Disaster Area' and 'Animal Instincts' are similar and for me are a slight let down as AOA had ample opportunity here to dip their toes in new sonic cesspools and try and make a few new stenches. Instead they play it safe and stick to what they know best. Fans will be happy enough but outsiders would expect more.
12 and 13 are golden oldies from the 'live' basin and are as rough as fuck. 'Shit For Me' and 'Duty And Honour' give you a taste of the riotous uproar that was all the rage during the paranoid soaked year of 1984. These are real ropey recordings and one has to scratch deep to find any semblance of a tune. If you are a fan who likes to collect then you may want to acquire this but if you are after some decent tunes to admire stay well clear. It adds to the story but these two pages are definitely torn and tattered.
The next 7 tracks were recorded for the 'Unlimited Genocide' split LP in 1986 with Oi Polloi throwing in 6 tracks too. 'Murder In The Wood', 'For Those Who Suffered', 'All Our Anger', 'Death On A Plate', 'Holy Hypocrisy', 'O. S. A' and 'Aftermath' are all hard to digest outbursts built on extreme intensity and political disgruntlement. Looking back it is all predictable vocalisation of a distinct sub-genre but the messages and passions should not be diluted due to the passage of time and ‘after the event/know it all’ pomposity. This shit stunk strongly and conjured up quite a following with its angry agenda and violent punk nastiness. You listen to this and you know AOA aren't taking the piss or joking but the fact is passing punters will always be divided. To swallow all this in one go is a little too much and I feel that AOA should have spread their wares thinly and hopefully gained a greater effect so as to punctuate what was going on in other scenes. Just a thought but you know Fungal - always has something to say! Best of this latter bunch is 'Death On A Plate'. Short, blasting and full of big booming bollocks - nice!
The last two 'live tracks 'For Those Who Suffered' and 'Disaster Area' were recorded at Moray House in Edinburgh in 1985 and are more corrosive discordance. You decide on these as my ears are scorched and I'm all out of steam.
So disk 1 complete and it's only taken me about 3 or 4 months. I'd rather be accurate than rushed and after all this time I'm hardly racing the clock. The view is of a hit and miss first side that has lost something over the last few decades but is a nice looking glass into what was. I'm hoping disk 2 varies its style and displays progression or else I'll have another 4 month journey ahead of me. Here we go then.
The first 6 tracks and tracks 7 to 13 were wrote between 1985 and 1987 and were released as an album entitled 'Satisfactory Arrangement'. There is a definite upsurge in the bands arrangements and production and although remaining as intense as ever there is more diversity yet still the furious rebellion going on throughout the entire mix. The uncompromising flavour of this CD is hard to digest in one haul and I feel you should read the sleeve notes and take in prescribed doses release by release. This current 13 track blast is major destruction at its rusted best (and worst if you get my drift). The emphasis again is on message rather than melody and those who love the anti-war, anti animal abuse, anti-government stance will find solace here. 'Scientific Fraud' is a pleasing avalanche of anti-critter cruelty and the song gets the blood racing with its unbending incessancy. 'No Immediate Danger' warns of apocalyptic poisons that remain invisible but eat away at the planet and for me it is a fuckin' shame that things are still the same and bands like this make little difference. The pride is in the fact they tried and what small difference they made to peoples attitudes counts. 'Is This Life' is stripped to the bone (and the waist in fact) and ready for fuckin' action. The lyrical matter found throughout the AOA catalogue is everything I agree with and the main problem they face can be summed up in two words 'People' and 'Ignorance' - in fact you could even be so bold as to drop the latter. The wordage here is statemented and to the point - no fuss just fuckin' rage and refusal - solid. Drums roll in and a creeping guitar before more hyper hate as regards the state of play (relevant then and...NOW) gets us by the throat and snarls in our face. 'Existing Not Living' has mean scotch inflection and comes from a tortured soul riddled with disgust. The restraint is there but soon collapses and the end flurry is expected and effective. A melodic strain rolls forth and female preaching hits the spot as 'Does It Matter' cascades via the speakers. The roles are reversed on the political suited speakers and we have a similar outpouring but from the other side of the fence. I don't mind stuff like this and the pebble-dashed male expulsions are welcome too and provide the obvious contrast. I only wish that AOA would have adopted this melodica a little more during their years together and tried to alternate their directive discharge. Very poisonous and in no way giving hint at the end breakdown where the reasoning is swept away by a whirlpool of blazing fury. Why not let the emotions run riot? 'Does It Matter' is the conjoined twin but with female leanings that add (obviously) a different aspect. The commencement of the gruff male screamings seem almost possessed in contrast to the lighter lady utterances which makes for an interesting listen.
So on to tracks 7 to 13. Like the band I am going to have a quick surge here and not fuck about. The tracks are (in order) 'Acceptance Of What', which has a nice opening sequence and shows maturity, 'Get To Fuck Out' is one of the best as the mind is lost and no holds barred with the overall expulsion and I fuckin' like that, 'No One Is Laughing' has a sweet haunting tinkle with more political agenda thrown our way with the odd outburst to recapture the listeners attention, 'Time To Realise' fits and shits into unsteady action and isn't a particular fave, 'Paradise Lost' crashes and smashes and makes no fuckin' apologies - raw hardcore, 'From The Heart' could be the title to any track on here as they are all obviously that way inclined and 'The Story So Far' spews forth again and grunges up with nasty noise which is a very intense pressure to be prepared for.
The next 3 burnt offerings were recorded in Newcastle in 1988 and are dated in the extreme. The production just isn't up to scratch and I guess the Fungal Fucker has been spoiled over the years by listening to many a fine punk band produce some storming 'live' efforts. As I have said before these 'in the place and face' offerings are very much collectors components to keep up to date and thus 'Acceptance Of What', 'Paradise Lost' and 'Anthesis Of Apathy' will be spared an unnecessary dissection just looking for faults.
And finally....the last four tracks which were recorded in 1990 for the 'All Out Attack' demo. 'All Out Attack' shows the band are in no mood to change or compromise their beliefs although the temper is dampened here by vocals that are cavernous and somewhat distant. At this point you feel AOA are on the cusp of experimental outpourings and I feel they fail miserably here. A clumsy song that doesn't know what it wants to be - a very bizarre moment. 'Withdrawal Symptoms' begins with a cathedral resonance before once again becoming another mistake. Were the band dropping acid here and dancing with flowers in their hair? There is something to work with but I just know what the band were thinking at this point. A more structured approach with this sound would have helped matters and exposed the talent so obvious but which is overwhelmed by a misshapen end construction. 'Superiority Complex' has that more orthodox approach and a meaner drive thus attracting more attention. Having said that the band have lost me and I am not liking these last outpourings one bit. 'A Small World/Ascendancy' trickles in and gives harvested hope similar to something found played in homage to a punky Wickerman. Strange indeed!
So 42 tracks in total and Fungal stretched to the max. Some I would deem very good, some under-produced, some just not my bag and the odd few very poor. Overall though an intriguing capture of a bands career who threw passionate beliefs into the mix and never stood back. The whole package is just a pure prize catch if you are a fan of the band or a connoisseur of crusted hardcore. I'd advise you check a few songs first before jumping in and if you like those then you'll like a whole lot more on here. Credit where credit is due though and this diary of cacophonous rage has been compiled with literate and accurate exactness. I'm worn out - please take this in small doses or suffer the same fate.
THE SENTON BOMBS - SWEET CHIN MUSIC
Scissor kicking punk 'n' roll delivered with articulate excellence and astonishing accuracy The Senton Bomb beast is a creature not to be underestimated. Alas this sordid scene is full of blinkered boneheads caught up in the trappings of less effective rhythmic webs and so miss out on quality expulsions such as this. This band are carving out a reputation in the underdog circles and it really should only be a matter of time before they slice their way into the underbelly of the sow of success and reap the rewards of their obvious talent. The fact that the SB crew don't conform to what a punk/metal band should look or sound like may affect them and if it does it only shows the actual lack of punk ethos out there. Too many uniformed stereotypes that are affected both in costume and thinking - wrong, so bloody wrong. Judge music on spirit, attitude, commitment and listenability and nothing else - just like I am going to do here.
Sergio Leone Mexicana opens this 14 shot shoot out and drips forth with a high dosage of anticipation and of an impending explosion. The tension becomes agonisingly taut as the first screwdriving guitar drills hard into the consciousness and one is glad when the rolling drums opening the floodgates into the climbing roars of a band intent on making one helluva impact. Fantastic stuff that climbs to the top rope and comes slamming down with mean, man-bitch intent. The vocals snarl and scratch before a thumbscrew guitar minces melody and leads into the almost victoriously boastful vampiric chorus. This opening effort is a brave move because at 5 minutes 30 seconds even the band must surely be aware that it will test the patience of the strictest punk dude. I like this fact though because having a slight insight into the band I am more than aware they won't stick to certain cretinous criteria that dictates, sometimes wrongly, what and what not a band should do within a given genre. Anyway the song doesn't seem overly long to me and so proves what a good opener it is. I particularly like the final shotgun blasts that close this piece - very confident and self assured just letting you know there is no escape from the Senton Bomb power. The head is straight down and racing forward as 'Little Something' sleazily asks that little question behind curled up lips dripping with hidden agenda. The band are in the zone with the bass providing a sound foundation for the exciting guitars and drums to bounce upon. The grind and blind intensity becomes whiter with each thrust and the sonic fucking our ears are taking at this point is unadulterated and very sinister. Sleazecore with balls bared this one bites with subtlety but leaves a scar to satisfy.
No sooner have we stopped panting from the recent rhythmic rape than our attacker is up and dancing around the acoustic bedroom with a glorious ringing erection that glistens with its own tuneful triumph. The jive is most definitely 'up yer arse and in yer face' here with a 3rd song ideal to compliment its counterparts and prove that the zenith reached so far will be maintained. Gimp cum oxygen masks better be worn because the overwhelming tension applied leaves no room for air with the sonic soundscape saturated with rockin', boppin' sperm. A nasty description for a nasty noise - the whispered moments only unsettle more and hold insidious threat. Be scared and hold onto your bollocks! 'Semper Fi' starts with a marvellous punked up cavalry charge backed by big fuck off drummology and guitar strobing hypnotism. Still ' ever faithful' to their own sound and audience the Senton Bombs do enough here to push boundaries and please the peripheral punter. I think the energy exuded so far is testament to a superb band who are sorely under-rated and reckon these four hand grenades will blow them to the fore of many a persons 'bands to see' list. From the opening blast of this latter track it is a case of listen or get trampled underfoot. The sound drives, throbs and digs in with frenetic fits and bursts - a mighty mix but all brought together to make another giant effort.
'Jersey Dolls' is a track from the recent SAS compilation which says enough but, just to add, this free-flowing piece of shady sordid sonica is a driving delight that prizes its way into your swinging psyche and forces one to rock. This is fairly typical Senton Bombs ejaculatory produce and impregnates the punk soul every time. 'Superkick' creeps along with predatory stealth before frontman Joey lets it all hang out with an emotive range flooded with inner belief. There is a hidden malevolence as the strings shiftily drill away whilst the vocals squeeze the entire life from all the reserves of inner passion - go boys go. Oh by the way this was taken from Wilkpedia - 'A superkick is the name used when referring to a high side thrust kick attack in professional wrestling, which sees the wrestler use the sole of the foot to strike an opponent's head or chin, usually preceded by a sidestep, often referred to as a crescent kick, or just a side kick.' - so there you go.
More grooving with 'Anaconda Vice' remarkably a song that has sweet fuck all to do with wrestling. It certainly grips on to my attention and seems as though the band are just rattling off red hot tune after red hot tune without thinking. I am thinking AC/DC drops Viagra here as the sexed up sound screws with a metalised member liable to tear your aural anus inside out. I can here the shouts from the pit now from rock 'n' roll starved deviants - 'deafen me baby deafen me now!’ The song has the odd break to recapture breath and a sweet tinkling melody throws another facet our way. I like the unpredictable nature we are getting thus far and am wondering if a slip up is in the offering. Sadly for me there is, with 'Cowboy Christ' a song that just passes me by without so much as wafting my willy! There is some good musical work going on but the persistent stop and start slant has me frustrated and reaching for the 'skip' button on the CD player. The song is, and I quote 'a cool religious satire on the return of Jesus in cowboy form' - mmmm - Big Chief Shitting Fungal says ‘tell the cowboy not to bother as the track playing in the saloon ain't no winner.’ The weakest of the lot for me and although once again mixing things up it just doesn't grab ones attention. Feel free to disagree though!
'Montreal' pumps away with a narrow-eyed focus before a pressurised tone intervenes thus confronting the regular and coming up smelling slightly different than expected. 'When The Sky Falls' is crammed and rammed with some twisting riffage saving the day. Call me fussy, call me pedantic but even though this is a band I adore, I feel at this point the CD needs a super duper bomb blast to start the closure in big, big fashion. Here we have reached a very pleasing plateau and levelled out which is all well and good but Fungal's greed for excellence requires more. If it were any other band I may have carried on regardless but for me The Senton Bombs ooze talent and I for one know there is a lot more in reserve and want to squeeze every last drop out of this lot. Twat hey?
'Bloodshot' and 'Born To Ride' both have nice textures that are smooth yet provoking. The band are in their own safety zone at this point and this is a brace of songs to sit back to and just flow along with. A brief solo burst, the consistent rock, the cute switches and swaps and the now expected man-whore vocals and we are coasting along an open freeway that can take this outfit wherever they want. Again the Bombs have the chance to slip into clichéd gears and produce noises that are predictable and non-productive as regards their cause and individuality. Thankfully they drive in their own admirable way burning rubber and eardrums in equal proportion.
'Contaminated' is a polluted slut that has sonic semen splashed within the walls of the pulsating rhythmic vagina and once again we have a sexualised grind liable to strip away our resistance. There are hints of glam thrown into this mix (as is the case elsewhere) with loose prostituted string work played to pornographic perfection. I like this one and it leads us into the final explosion entitled 'Somewhere Else'. It is in fact a solid end whipped up and ridden to the finishing line with aplomb. The stops and starts are well timed and the frantic finale shows the band are just ready to get out there and show the world what they can do.
So Fungal has done and dusted with this one and is very pleased with a band he undoubtedly believes in and wishes all the best for. Sure I found a few areas where the band can improve and a few songs that don't gratify my own noisy palate but hey, that's reviewing music for ya. The Senton Bombs stay on my list of fabulous bands and if you ain't seen these dudes in action yet than get to it. Take and extra few quid too and pick up a CD - the diversity may be to your delight.
MONGREL - REVENGE
Hailing from Danvers, Massachusetts this was a new listening experience for me and I am more than happy to add, a fuckin' pleasurable one. Combining hard rock, articulate punk and sprinklings of manic metal this crew do the business and jolt one upright with their electrifying grittiness. There is a dominance to the output that demands attention. Nothing shy, nothing dumbed down - just four dudes knocking forth a stubborn, forthright noise some may be overwhelmed by but those who like a bit of sonic brutality will very much applaud.
Boom, boom, boom - engines running - boom, boom, boom - switch intensity levels to maximum - three, two one - make those fuckin' ears bleed. 'Scum' is cast over us with sable seriousness where a taut atmosphere is constructed and maintained via a hard edged noise that is intended to hurt. The guitars corrode, the drums hint towards a hardcore/death metal rhythm and the vocals are borne of a very angry dude indeed. The countenance of this musical episode is grimaced and intense, seething with pent up anger and violent tendencies. It gets on with the job and I like it very much.
'Catharsis' peeps around the corner before marching out into full view with all melodic muscles flexed and ready to scuffle. I enjoy the nasty edge to this one and the defiant tones that have a subtle cockiness and self assured 'fuck you' inflection. This is music to bridge the metal/punk gap and Mongrel are just that. Musically crossbred bastards who won't be told what to do - yeah! They keep the riffs and hooks in line and make this a brutal listen. 'Beyond Repair' has no time to dawdle and surges with aplomb from the open explosion to the final destructive strum. Fast and furious with the band escorting one another well and truly into the pit of hateful oblivion. I like the fact that this stuff isn't over-polished and the rough and gruff are left to infect the entire end pollution thus making for a very dirty end listen.
'Butterknife Suicide' has a contemptuous slant with the vocalist pulling out all the toxic stops in front of a busy landscape of tuneage that occasionally breaks down to an apocalyptic bass and drums. It is a no-nonsense outpouring that lovers of this style will lap up in a decadent dance of appreciation. Despite being a 100% punker I am finding this integration with metal totally absorbing and feel that this snapping cur has pulled out a choice cut of heavy sinewed angst that will appeal to both long haired louts and spiky topped scummers.
The quintet closes with a machine gun roll which is soon joined by mean bassism and then the twisted guitar and ever spiteful mouth thus making 'Point A Finger' a solid end job. This is the most deliberate and staccato piece in the mix but rounds off in fine style due to its beefy attitude and menacing ambience. Ooooomph!
So five concrete composures liable to crunch and cripple the listener into accepting submission. I know many who will adore this and suggest you most definitely have a browse through their Myspace tracks and then get yer grubby mitts onto this. If pleased then further purchases should most definitely be made.
THE BERMONDSEY JOYRIDERS - SELF TITLED
Seeped in musical experience this lot look a right bunch of fuckin' 'erberts who just can't stop rockin' and a rollin'. I saw Gary Lammin do a solo set a few years back in Poulton Le Fylde and was quite taken with what I saw. I had no idea what to expect here and their 3 word whip on Myspace stated this was Punk/Rock/Blues which didn't really put me in the know either. The fact there are obvious connections with bands many would be impressed by will not sway my opinion one bit and this 10 track effort will get judged on its own character and not any external influences. You should all know Fungal by now - honest and havin' it - no other way a punk should be.
The CD commences and immediately has me reaching for the amphetamines as this ain't gonna be an easy review and will need my full attention. Look dudes I like things fast and raging and so am really on the back foot. Don't get me wrong though I regard my punky tastes as quite eclectic and am always up to widen the aural spectrum. 'The Cafe Racer' storms passed the drive through with a two-fingered salute and an exhaust free roughness. It is a basic song that takes a little warming to but in the end gets there. The final bodywork is corroded in parts which I deem to be a deliberate touch and thus leaves us with a song that has character and one we are happy to be taken for a ride with. The flashing blue light catches up with the end heap but the short, uneven journey was a sweet one. The blue layers are added a little more thickly for the second track with an almost bastardised westernisation borne from the bars of sun drenched corners of the USA. 'All The Darkness' is found in the deepest recesses where cowboy boots are tapped and buckles strapped as this outfit struts their stuff. What the BJ's are doing here they do well and my only concern would be how the punk fraternity would take to them. Personally I'm up for fuckin' anything with my gigs and have always peddled the mix and match approach. These would slot into an all-dayer quite nicely and hopefully the spiky topped cynics would stick around a give the fuckers a chance. Even if interest was flaggin' I'd expect all the demented nostalgia brigade to perk up to the next number which is most famously known as a Cocksparrer piece, thus in many parts 'it must be good'. Not so with Fungal who thinks Sparrer are over-rated anyway (yeah an opinion that doesn't go with the majority - suck on it) and this track will be judged on its merits here. Having said the previous this is one of the better CS tracks and the new slant given works well with a more poverty stricken end result with added 'up close and personal' passion. It flows well and as stated would reignite any dwindling interest.
The mushroom man moves on to the next track, namely 'Football'. Oooh a song about a bunch of overpaid fuckers who participate in what is now a non-contact sport and want treating like kings. Loverly! Just the way to get on Fungals sweeter side! This one is OK at this stage but when I first heard it I did in fact think 'what a bag of shite'. The shite has mellowed and the initial fumes blown away on a persuasive breeze and this one has grown on me. It is a slow and steady song with no real 'kick' and trips up somewhat over its own 'safety first' laces. The way it is improving upon me though perhaps means I will be re-writing this review in 10 months and proclaiming a classic has been unearthed - then again the entire Premiership may be giving 50% of all their wages to charity and Neil Warnock may be devoid of opinions regarding referees and their decisions (emphasis very much on the 'may' I think).
'The Bermondsey Joyriders' is an instrumental and surprisingly has me thinking whether or not it is the best track on the CD. It is a very good piece of bluesy punk and cruises along with likeable character and strum and drum charm. There is a definite groove one can trace and thus must make the ideal opening for any gig. Here though a firm thumbs up for the effort and the midway positioning which is to the benefit of this CD. Breaks things up nicely and allows Fungal to scratch his arse and think things over so far. 'Genuine' continues the pattern set with more corrupted blues twanging along with a gravelled vocal upstart for company. This is my least favourite song of the lot but nevertheless fits in to the whole mix accordingly. It is a wrap around number that uses one trick and throws it at you over and over again. This is in accordance in some ways with a bluesy tradition and not the only song to adopt this mode of melody. 'Who Are Ya' will have the football fans and general rabble rousing ruffians singing in harmony as the chant of the title will draw them in. The guitar careens all over the rhythmic road, the inflection is belligerent and the noise quite gratifying. Once again I find myself feeling as though I shouldn't like this but as ever am getting into the groove and if these guys are in my neck of the woods will be curious to see a 'live' offering.
'Again And Again' is a straight ahead piece that is more orthodox in structure and does the business. It kind of 'just gets on with it' and fucks off any elaborate tinklings for a more standard construction. A fair do and leading into the old style rockin' runway with ease and bringing us to the slower and much grimier sounding 'Part Of My Problem'. I like this one a lot and the crummy chorus is drawn forth from a seemingly cigarette scorched larynx that is only moistened by the kiss of hard liquor. A very dirty sounding concoction and a throw back to yellow walled shithouses were the cavernous echo of a distant band playing in the bar is enough to motivate the hammered soul.
We close with 'Rock 'n' Roll Demon', a song that starts with a Stonesy accent and then just cuts to the chase with a brainwashing style that goes on and on and surprisingly retains the listeners attention. These are simple songs in theory and the fact that they keep the punter involved I am sure is down to the sweetly tapped font of primitive tuneage that is more than apparent on this unusual punky funky offering. The wind down here is stretched to its limits and normally a bit of 'What The Fuck' would be uttered from my sherry stained lips whereas I am nodding away in contented appreciation.
So then dudes what is the verdict? Well bung this on a punk festival and some will walk away and seek out more typical punk stuff rather than give it a chance. Some will have a go and fuck off due to it not being their bag and some will stay, dig the drift and have a darn tootin' time and pick up a few CD's happy in the knowledge that punk has many facets to please and that there is a different band on the block that will break up the traditional riotous discordance. A Fungal flop - not at all - and no matter what your choice of punk cha this one is worth a few sips.
WASTED LIFE/RATMONKEY - SPLIT RELEASE
Hard hitting punk rock for the first 6 songs as Wasted Life blast craters with hurtful aggression and heavy duty tuneage similar in fact to something along the lines of those concrete stompers Bonecrusher. The melody is minced and it is more than apparent that this outfit mean big fuckin' business.
We commence with 'Gangland'. A song thta begins with distortion, a few strums and a meaningful 'go'. Bang on the button this one from first to last with a competent drive that will grab you by the throat and tell you to 'get fuckin' stuck in'. Power enhanced verses lead into a full on chorus with guitar screwing its way quite subtly into your submissive brain cells. The gob at the front is hefty and so the other players have plenty to rebound off and bounce they fuckin' well do. I always like it when a band come out fighting and here its definitely a case of that with added knuckle dusting aggression. 'Kick Me' follows up the initially thumping and may not be as melodically ensnaring but draws you in just as efficiently with its string inflection and saturated all-around sound. Really riotous guitars stir the song into life before the 'one-way' route is taken and the band steamroll to the finish line. Big flashing notes, concrete drums and again more voice-box destruction via the loudmouthed zealot at the front - mmmm- a sweet cocktail of punkology!
Taut strings twinge before an obnoxious 'blah' is spewed over the doubters and the deliberate nostalgia of '1977' comes our way. Mid-paced with catchy overtones this one will have the pit filled with old wrinklies who are not prepared to give up the retro punk cause. If the band are going to have a 'live' favourite this will be a contender for blatant reasons. Ripped and torn in all the right places this effort pierces the punk heart with a certain exactness. DIY mentality indeedy! A clichéd gob full stops the effort and the free-flowing 'Outclassed' has the best verse of the CD so far with bully beef mouth and mincing guitars making for a winner. In fact the 6-stringed weapon does some real neat work in the background and adds that extra professional edge to this granite song. 'Oi You' has several moments that have me reaching for the Oi reference library and wondering 'where have I heard this before'. The most uneven trip so far with a chorus and verse confrontation that never really settle their differences. Oh so slightly the duo don't sit comfortably and one expects a melodic coming together that will blow the song wide apart. It doesn't happen but one still feels slightly uneasy. Not a bad track but the least effective to Fungal's lugs so far. Such are the hazards of being an awkward twat!
'Wasted Life' finalise their contribution with the comfortable number entitled 'Unforgotten Heroes'. A song dealt with consummate ease and hitting all the right points that this crew are so adept at. A good introduction for me to a band who are certainly going to win many fans and make many an impression in this scene.
So, what next - a band called Ratmonkey. Sounds interesting to Fungal. We kick off with a bizarre little narrative about rats raping monkeys - mmmm - obviously some powerful drugs are being dabbled with here. The first song is indeed called 'Ratmonkey' and is a feisty number with some bottled up menacing madness liable to bubble over into veritable foam of mental illness. The band however keep the sonic straitjacket tight and produce a concrete introduction.
The moribund and sobering attack that is 'Don't Tell Me I've Got Cancer' comes across as a tale of heartbreak turned on its head into a tirade of defiance against a disease very much the scourge of the human race. Listen to the words - sadness is channelled into anger and a punk rock stubbornness that gets my manky vote all the way. There is a fury present and all components contribute greatly with the front gob letting you know his feelings only too clearly. Great stuff and straight in we go to 'No Religion'. What's this about then? The band thrive when livid and this one is a fair effort. Nothing new under the sun but I am happy to be roasted by this kind of searing noise. Most definitely a 'louder the better' moment so prepare your neighbours for a shock. Just as a point - no religion or no people - take yer pick ha, ha. Where does the bigger problem lie?
The bastardised guitar work that is more than just prettily vacant is cute but will not escape the comparison. I am hoping for something special here and only get something decent. The song surges and has no subtle twists of any slight of hand. It is tunnel-vision punkology that is filled with hate and spittle. Ratmonkey know how to vent spleen and play a mean punk game thus keeping Fungal intrigued. Obviously not meant to be over-technical claptrap the scene is getting more and more invaded by and thus thriving all the better for it. 'End Of The Day' has me scratching my head in trying to pinpoint where I have heard certain guitar spurts before. Can't place em' so on with the review of the song in hand. The chorus makes this one succeed with niggling guitar work that swaps style and speed with ease. The verses build nicely into that gushing chorus and yes, a winner for me. 'Trout Lips' I am sure is about a celebrity who has had a trifle too much plastic surgery and has a fish-faced look that she can only blame herself for. Such is the price of vanity. Ratmonkey show no sympathy here and go for the jugular and produce one of their most venomous and effective songs so far. Good strong guitar work, reliable drums, throbbed (bass) and a nasty mouth happy to add extra poison. Nicely (plaice)d the s(pike)y topped brigade will love this spiteful tuna oops I mean tune!
'Southerner' and 'Mad Mick' are the last two of the entire CD with the former tub-thumping in, joined with groovy bassism a whine of a guitar and off we go. Its a par for the course effort and if you have liked all that has gone so far then your thumbs will still be raised. The latter of the closing two is the better song with more guts on show and a more approachable melody that can indulge the punter. Some good guitar work is going on in the midst of the mayhem and it is a comfortable closure for the ratted monkey crew.
14 songs from two bands that have me adding to my ever-increasing list of bands to catch up with. Both bands have their own identity, stay within the punk boundaries and on this evidence should go down a storm on most gigs. Whether this will be enough to carry them forth onto bigger and bolder things is anyone’s guess as the scene is so unpredictable and overly insulated so as to make progression a real toss of the coin. Nevertheless picking up this CD is recommended and hopefully these two can be added to your list of 'must see' units too.