FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 62
CLEAVERS - DEMO EP
Cleavers are a dirty thrash group making a sound that rattles the rhythmic ribs and fractures the sonic skull. A horror to take perverse pleasure from and yet many punkers will feel isolated from and not really get the inner relish these guys add with so much artistry. The last CD aroused me no end and here we have more of the same with one track repeated, given a make-over and shocking me to my very noise affected fibres.
'Girls In Their Sunday Best' is a dreadful ghastly whore of misshapen beauty. A whinge drones on as shitty sticks and warped wires rise in appreciation of the impending messy fuck. Further smouldering intensity is added with a pulsating twinge and then we ...indulge. Rolls and riffs are held in check when the searing vocals poke and prod with hazardous essence. Several lines are somewhat tamed but what follows is off the leash and very, very effective. The raising of the volume levels is irresistible and one is happy to bath in the cacophonic cunt which is wonderfully exposed by these anarchic artistes whom are aching to achieve, throbbing to thrill. Uuuurgghh!
Next up comes a behemoth of a bitch tattooed with the title 'Hulk Hands (Cryin' Into My Cafitiere)'. At 1 minute 31 seconds the timing is precise and from the first catchy rhythm we are sucked in to a raging acoustic anus of rumbling rage that will thrutch and clutch and not let you go. The head nodding vibe is swiftly at your throat and tearing away layers of will without any resistance at all. When we peel away the final layer and reveal the succulent meat of the mind mincing chorus we are without choice and ‘rock fuckin' hard’ is the only command we hear. This extra spiced and diced devil will consume your soul - be warned!
'A Casual Box' closes and is the deepest rumble of the lot and the most deliberate grind. Slowly paced and without the high flying motivation of its predecessors this one takes some adjusting to but when a few spins have been had one can soon get into the groove and appreciate it is an essential part of what is an impressive three way thump up. Give it time and let the absorbing racket draw you in - you won't be disappointed.
So another swift sojourn into the shithouse created by the Cleaving machine. We come out yet again soiled and sweaty but are glad of the visit, The initial two tracks need full power via the speakers and I'll second guess that you will be more than a little taken aback. Go for it - get Cleavered!
WIDOWS - RAISE THE MONOLITH
Nottingham based Widows are an unapologetic unit and what they tip forth is a murky black sonic sludge that overwhelms both those inside the circle and those on the outside. The test will come when they want to appeal to a wider audience (if at all) and will be met, no doubt, with much resistance from those who like things a little more digestible and easy to pick up, piss about with and throw away (about 90% of the music scene if you ask me). This doom-laden stoner style musical liquid is of its ilk and at this stage will fail to spark many outside fires other than the ones leaning that way anyhow. The band may not care and why the hell should they but hey, Fungal must make mention of what rolls around the noggin' when the silver disc is turning. Being of the old punko-persona this is also not one to fuel the inner embers so care and time as had to be taken to fully understand the viscid vomit dripping my way. In for a penny, in for a pound - here's my external take on the four organ shaking bastards on a gruelling CD.
'The Kiss Of Failure' begins with a typical rocked up motif that does (in some form or another) continue throughout that heavily driven assault. All tones are bassed and dense, the saturation of the sonic sponge is high, the basic construct of the song is to be as overwhelming as possible and, in truth, albeit being of a certain sub-generic style, the impact made is solid. The thought is of a harshly toned treacle that will stick in your gullet if not well and truly versed in the art of the blackened hell-hole of damning rock. The initial vocal assault is interrupted by a two-pronged twang and further on a cascading downwards guitar and on we are dragged into an ever-increasing tumult of furious, demonic mayhem. At the finale one may feel confused but my advice is to keep on playing over and over and ponder - you can't help but admire the effort and talent thrown in.
'Fuck-Knuckle' slam bams along with a repetitive punch stroke being the main aspect of a song that keeps to its set track but now and again tumbles off into the undergrowth. The string work is incessant and slightly corroded to add that much needed dirty feel from whereupon the fellow sonic symbiotes can produce their own noisy fruit and contribute to the end frenzy. My least favourite this due to the flow being halted here and there by segments that attempt to add extra detail to a grim picture which is more than likely lost on me but mightily revealing to the connoisseur of this chaos. More groove is injected into the wanting vein next as the mighty impetus of the 'Whore Of Babylon' arouses and adds a harder pump to the delivering loins. Initially the scorch burns made are more deeper, more painful and of course more effective and one proposes that this is the best song of this crippled quartet. Big, big riffage, pushed the extreme mouth work, vibrating bass and sticks that just can't keep still - this is a busy affair and again several listens are needed. There is a belief in the bellows - prepare to take note!
'Drowned In Chains' closes and at 5 minutes 43 seconds is way too long for this old Fungal fruit. The opening sequence (after the converted waffles on) is like awaiting a storm. Clouds gather, the skies darken, the Heavens rumble - all we want is some sweet refreshing rain to clear the humid atmosphere set. Widows make a meal of the moment and delay the downpour a little too long and so irritation is had. Eventually the clouds break and the apocalyptic horsemen gallop forth before cutting down all in their path with a crushing cacophony. I am not keen on this song at all but do find interest when the six-string whips are lashed around and more weighted riffage tears the flesh from your resistance. Other than that - no not for me.
So four metalised songs from the more sable end of the spectrum and although of a power and standard to admire I still won't be growing my barnet long and giving the satanic salute to the skies any time soon. This band obviously know what they are aiming for and do it with genuine authority and, I suspect, in their very own circles are causing quite a stir. If I see the name bandied about on a flyer whilst on my travels I may just well check em' out - watch the Fungal reviewing area for a write up - could be interesting.
THE MAGNIFICENT - BAD LUCKY
Once again I find myself out of favour with a CD that gradually grows upon me and so creates a complete contrast from the initial verdict to the current one. An odd thing and it is a fact that many facets make up that essential appeal factor and what the final fuckin' thing is I have no idea. The Magnificent come forth here and try to win us over with a sound that is fresh, may it be said 'British' and full of sublime nostalgia and reality. If the majority of the punk noise is unshaven and studded this is definitely clean cut and pressed and that is where this Leeds based trio will succeed. There is a crisp edge to the recording as well which compliments the band no end and with plenty of organised talent on show the CD would be quite unlucky to draw out a bad review - you never know though - I am a funny old bugger at times.
'1981' commences the CD and rolls in on spurred rock 'n' roll heels before almost clearing the soundscape and leaving the vocals to take command and pull out a very solid performance. We carry on forward and the strings and drums increase their zest levels whilst the front gob searches for hope, searches for a future where ends indeed can be met and salvation is found. The clarity of the song is pleasing and it is good to see a band step back, create and execute a well thought out song and provide a sound foundation on which a CD can be built. It is more than apparent at this early stage that we have a band who will not palm us off with any flimsy filler tracks and by heck if they do I will pounce like the pirate punker that I be. One down and one up to The Magnificent. 'Foreign Legion' chases and after 4 tapping in soon catapults into a thriving song full of fluid action and acoustic eagerness. A feeling of abandonment and wanting to get away is soon forgotten as the band take all attention with some fantastically well merged strums and slaps and thus bring about an effort full of urgent insistence and bubbling enthusiasm. Another moment where instruments tone it down and the gob is left to hold court with no gripes found at all and the crew proving they know their noisy onions. I find myself reaching for comparisons, making many and yet without any degree of certainty. I'm liking the honesty thus far, the man in the street inflection, the semi-raw overtones where what we get is polished but not without that vital lifeblood that creates an approachability. Nice work!
'1990' takes care, tantalises with toned down chuggery before opening up with something steady and well balanced. Verse is safe, chorus more risky, pace a little too ponderous but rescued by Captain Production who spins a thread and takes care of a song that has little bite but a good emotive look-back feel. Not my favourite on this solid offering but far from a cold turkey. What is more up my street is the next offering entitled 'Working Men's Club (Part 3)', a real rush and push affair with an high action cum energy edge that gets the melodic locomotive burning attentive coals and keeping all passengers interested. The 'Whoa hoas' ask you to do your bit and the chanted segment that repeats the fact that 'I need a job working for you' is a perfect inclusion that heightens this brief but effective romp. 'Hold My Drink Up High' chops things up and forces its way in with high passion and plenty of resourceful musicianship. An added swagger in the delivery here is most rewarding and the tight, well orchestrated construction, big riffage, spacious intercuts and utter belief pay big dividends and have one foot tapping and noddin' the noggin' in honest appreciation. The classiest cut so far - I think so!
Its not often that the Orthoptera get mentioned in a song title but they do here with 'BBQ And Grasshoppers'. It ain't nothing to do with the stridulating beasties but it still gets my due attention and not a bad effort it is at all. Opening with a sunset influence before beginning the sonic day on steady heels with the occasional outburst this song seems in no hurry and needs time to brew before assessing the full on flavour. Consider each component, analyse the way each part slips into the next, judge the song! 4 thumps of the tins and we speed on before another quad tickle - this time of the cymbals. 'Longshot' is a high dosage of encouraging noise with a real load up hammering away without looking back. Both guitars are ablaze and rushing headlong to the final blast with drums whipping their arses and keeping all in order. At just over the half way mark this song is the re-injection of life into the whole CD and in certain parts even takes time to let the players showcase themselves and add those extra well-timed trimmings that make for a great song. We slam out at full speed and its straight into the opening vocal burst of 'Buy More Crap'. A rave against the loss of identity and how each and every town looks the same as do the dwellers found therein. When the gob goes solo, interchanges with its partners or goes for the unification style it works with 100% success and although I had initial trepidations about this CD the more I have indulged the more quality I have uncovered. This is a fuckin' choice collection and this song is a major contributor to the positive end result.
'Walk A Mile In My Jeans' is straight from the backstreet and explodes with a fresh and satisfying thirst with the crew totally in the zone and bowling you over with sharp dressed rhythm and soaked through sonic. It is as though there is some kind of hidden race going on here and The Magnificent are giving their all so as to settle for nothing less than first place. The motivation throughout this number is blatant and in parts the song almost becomes airborne such is the fuel being applied by each and every player. Fuckin' excellento! 'King Of The Denim' Jackets' stutters in and goes for an obvious Clash-esque feel but with a greater chomp in the production department thus emphasising these guys grit and determination. Add to the essence many other influences from time of yore and now and this is a thoroughly absorbing number with some polished strums and nicely gravelled vocals. Again the tempo is urgent, the need to rattle the listener high and the subtle intricacies not overly done and nicely positioned. Very lively music this and certainly capable of rousing the most dismissive critique.
And that my funky punky folks is that! 10 tracks, delivered in accomplished style, nipping at yer heels with fervour and given a nice finishing gloss to meet certain standards of the pedant. From initial sensations of doubt to the current satisfied pleasure this is worth anyone's time and no matter what sub-generic circle you run around in please step out and dabble with this - class!
TAKEN BY THE TIDE - THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS...
An Atheist In A Foxhole' apparently - well there you go! Total utter crippling cacophony of the highest order is what you get here and boy does it cause some pain. This tech-metal mush is boiling hot and as it pours over your bared soul it takes away everything you deem to be structured, coherent and listenable. This can be no bad thing but with so much molten hatred and uncontrolled venom one can only be too dumbed and numbed and not be given the chance to breathe more pure acoustic air. Individually the hammer fists rattle but over the course of this CD you lose all feeling early on and so just can't be bothered to make a judgement. Don't forget this is completely out of my sonic range and being a punk rock shit as I am I will still tackle the review as honestly and fairly as I can. If you disagree you'll get no argument from me!
The 'Intro' is a bout of madness that rings true - a mere factual outburst about the state of play we are just on the cusp of due to our selfish fat pig idle ways. The irritated nut on the ‘Network’ is captured from 1976 and goes by the name of Howard Beale - a very angry man indeed. The scene is set - a cold acoustic winter of discontent is blowing our way and the first blast comes via a song of technically poisonous proportions entitled 'Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea'. What the fuck man - I am just a poor old punker going about his 2 minute 'let em' have it' business when suddenly this montage of musical mayhem bombards my innocent (well almost) multi-coloured lugs. From the opening grim strum we are beaten black and blue by a devilish discordance spilled forth from the warped womb of Metal-Tech where mismanaged anger is flooded inwards via the spermatic waters ejected by many a long haired demon. Guitars collide, drums seizure, the throat at the fore is savaged - a gruelling listen, a genuine crime against decency - whatever you make of it, it is done with artistry, a complete disregard for rules and with a heave ho production - suck on that sunshine!
More evil love liquid slips from the noisy cunt of chaos with 'The Circling' not a sexual manoeuvre but a mere orgy of flesh eating instruments, each one as harmful as the next and with a total sinister motive. The initial warning regarding your dying ear cells is almost taunting and in some respects happy to relay gen of a negative theme. The plodding giant that comes forth is insane and will not be refused access to your inner rhythmic soul. Once there it will pulverise via a range of aggressive audio and off the cuff nail gun violence that will leave you sickened and bent double with sonic pain. Nasty stuff and will take some flushing out of yer system that's for sure. 'She Looks Like A Dead Heat In A Zeppelin Race' confounds the mind with a title aimed at the obviously big titted birds but comes at yer with a decision to puncture the said jugs with sharp incisive awkward angles of sound. The first few tracks I can stomach but this is pure bilge water from an anal opening that needs quickly. Even punk, when doused in technicality, gets on my wick so come on and be fair, what chance have I got here? Beyond an acquired taste this and pure nefarious noise obviously wanting to cause upset. I have heard much of this in the past and do admire the intensity but this one is just a little too disjointed to deserve an accurate judgement from me - forgive me please!
'And The Sharks Took The Rest' is a quote from the classic that is 'Jaws' and is a strong piece of disordered doomage, overloaded with more fiddlings and fuckings. Guitars are absorbing and if this was a shorter piece my verdict would be brighter. Alas at 3 minutes and 20 seconds all I can do is add further sable shit to the already blackened sun and so a negative reaction from myself is had. I do like the 2 minute plus dialogue from the shark obsessed fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw) in the aforementioned classic film. Not a bad effort but needed a minute or so shaving off - that's the punk in me fighting through again!
So a real test for Fungal and hopefully I have come through it mentally unscathed. This chosen form of racket making is very awkward to grasp if one is outside of the swirling pool but the obvious skill and dedication is what makes it appeal I suppose and the production values here only help matters. If you ever want to commit suicide by dinnage then this is the mess to push you over the edge - the ones in the know will love it, the others - well can you hear the graveyard calling?
WASTED LIFE - IT MEANS NUTHIN WHEN YOU'RE DEAD
Hailing from Stoke-On-Trent and yearning to go on to bigger and better things Wasted Life have done alright for themselves thus far and are slowly and steadily building a firm reputation among the more punk rock purists. Their style is to stick to certain criteria typical of this cacophonic circus and to push it forth in unrelenting style reliant on a good riff, a good rhythm and a good fuckin' rant. Discontent runs amok within the wordage as does a questioning disagreeable standpoint and you really can't question the punk spirit. Alas I am not here to judge on attitude alone but, as you know, the whole racket and packet - so grab yer nuts, plug yer orifices and get ready for the low-down.
The switch is on, the guitars are thrashed into life and an angry shout grabs us by the collar and says 'prepare'. The initial similarity is to those fine exponents of brutality - Bonecrusher, but that is a strong comparison to make as the US big hitters are a mighty band to compete with. 'Why Me' is a strong opening burst and questions everything from the Almighty to the hand of Fate. The initial slashes are overtaken by a well grilled verse that drops forth into a chorus that is simple enough and very well bowled forth, however a slight criticism may be the front gob is slightly over reaching and straining too much rather than singing. In the more spacious moments this does seem apparent and a little more relaxation in the tonsil area may pay dividends - hey maybe I am just wrong - such are the hazards. Disregarding this slight niggle the song is a granite effort and shows the crew are up for it and ready to rumble out some big rockin' riots.
'State Of Anxiety' begins with the machinery straining and accompanied by a sombre string piece filled with worry and, it seems, regret. It is only momentary though and the WL warriors are soon ranting and raving with a surge against the uptight restless feeling we all suffer from and try to beat. Once the lyrics are read the song improves as this is a good battling number to wake up to and start the day with. The pace is nifty, the general essence rowdy and of a stark contrast to the almost defeated words. Keep it going dudes. And so they do with the efficient well-oiled drive of 'Long Time Dead'. Starting with an intro I have heard a hundred times over doesn't distract from a bog standard punk song that I shouldn't like and duly disregard as being punk by numbers (so the know it all wankers tell me), but do in fact fuckin' enjoy and take it for what it is - a bog standard punk track that I do enjoy. It has energy, it has the 'fuck em' all' spirit and it is again dealing with a sensation we should take heed of - and that will do for me!
Moving on and with the decelerator hit one wonders what lasting impression 'Deprivation' will make. A hometown ditty leaking disgust and woven with emotion this is a nice change in direction and the potteries punkers do themselves good justice. A pulsating build up with carefully rolled drums, the 4 count falls and JJ growls forth, this time with less strain (and the result is excellent). In parts we break away and the mouth is almost deserted and is left to give a somewhat shadowy sung monologue and the atmosphere created shows that the band should definitely chance their arm with more acoustic ambiences. A song sure to gain greater note the more one plays the album - watch out! 'Those Were The Days' cracks in and travels along with one eye looking forward and one very much reminiscing about pissed up, 'couldn't give a fuck' times when recklessness was the par for the course. The style is one to nod your head along to and then shout in unison and all is enhanced by a simple, as you like, chorus. No rocket science needed - just some good musos plying their trade - and that is what we get.
'Bad Habits' rolls and rattles in before whinging away on a downwards spiral into hell. The vocalist gets everyone back into line and all commence into a slamming 'wake up' charge that is deliberate, in a blinkered groove and over-dosing to a chorus that hits hard and then glides away before we repeat all prescribed musical melody. The second chorus we hit refuses to usher itself too far into the distance and follows up with a big flurry and then showcases more weaponry before following the initial route set. One of the best this one and sadly followed by one of the more mundane. 'Four Years Flat' is a song that is too similar in strain and not as effectively produced and so seems a little out on its arse on this CD. It just really does nothing for me and I am sure many will wonder why and a few may agree but that's reviewing for ya. I can't place what the fuck the problem is but it tickles my taste buds not one jot. Fortunately we follow this abhorrent outsider with a much welcome masterclass of noise via a racket entitled 'All Fucked Up'. Full of spiked spirit, aching with a lust to abuse and impress. From the taut, screwed up opening, to the restrained build, through the first ravenous verse up to the power-saturated chorus this is a beat up, worn out and well bruised number that the ones up for a mosh will find irresistible. The band are finding a second wind here and after the previous blow-out it is much needed - well saved dudes.
'Everything For You' starts with a confident scuttle, pangs with aching guitar and then goes at the job in hand with disillusion in the inflection. I like this opening piece and the chorus, however simple you may deem it to be, is suited to the overall construct of the song and will capture the pissed up punters attention and have them joining in and punching the air. That is all a song needs to be honest and rather than over elaborate the band do just enough. The string work within this one is nicely attended to and it has gotta be one of the best tracks of the lot. Alas the chasing outpouring isn't one of the best and for some reason just slips by unnoticed primarily down to the chorus not having enough slam and bam. 'Arrogance' has the capabilities and has the usual Wasted Life touch but misses out despite some good downward spiralling guitar work and decent intent. 'Betrayed Truth' also has a chorus that isn't full of brutality but this time the versage saves the arse of the acoustica by being whipped into order and maintaining a strong level of focussed intensity. The snippet where drums are allowed to breathe and where the guitar follows with a minimalistic riff is well placed and overall this song just does enough to squeak by on the right side of the positive/negative line.
'Mistakes' is the closing cacophony and is restrained and not let fully of the leash. The design of the ditty hints at something progressive and instead of a swift 2 minute typical punk rock riot we are treated to a song that has more than a little thought. Opening with care this song tells a tale of loss, regret and hopeless worrying errors that can't, it seems, be corrected. A relationship is lost, an emotive tale is given a good send off and...the CD closes.
My thoughts at this stage are of a sound band who are working towards a release that is going to be nothing short of a classic. This isn't it but is nevertheless is meaty album with many a good track to relish and the odd flat-line offering that is easily overlooked. I am merely here as a reviewer to help the band achieve their maximum potential and I am 100% convinced the band have at least another 30% improvement in them which makes for a very frightening prospect indeed. Get this, get their split with Rat Monkey and await the next one...with baited breath!
3 STONE MONKEY - SEX, VIOLENCE AND PROFANITY
A band seeped in punk know-how, a band doing it for themselves, a band back on the road and seemingly determined to keep it real. It all sounds very appealing and having never heard a jot of noise from these dudes prior to receiving this CD I was going into the review as fresh as a daisy, as unbiased as a virginal voter. The mush hit the Fungal fan, it was duly sprayed all ways, re-gathered and then examined. This is the outcome:-
The 'Intro' is just that and not worth sitting on so to track 2 I commence with a delicious romp entitled, er '3 Stone Monkey'. What a great signature rattle and if ever a song should open up a gig and introduce you to the band then this is it. At 1 minute 46 seconds the timing is just right and as a straight ahead, un-frilled song it is as honest as the day is long. The build up to the basic chorus is effective and the band displays nothing more than being well and truly 'up for it'. A DIY overlay doesn't take the gloss off the end effect - have it! 'Berlin Tour' builds up with increasing slaps before pounding away with slightly more variety via a noise, once more, without intricacy. A slamming sound with guitars adding slight flavour and drums just there for that extra 'beef’ factor. There is a raw energy of course but the Monkey brigade add a little more honest essence that seems straight out of the dustbin and spilt forth onto your living room carpet. Mucky but not offensively so and with an inner segment that takes time for us to reassess - not bad at all is the verdict!
'Assassination City' throws itself straight at your feet with a hustle and bustle that has slightly more texture. The shuffles are a nice attempt but due to the production value just don't pull it off and in truth the whole song lacks the bollocks of its predecessors. One thing of note with a slightly sub-standard production is that the more intricate moments fare less well than those that are delivered with force - I guess its just one of those things. The middle break lacks also lacks true punch and yet despite this being my least favoured track thus far I can see what the band are trying to pull off and where they are trying to take the noise. 'Friday Night Fever' is much more like it and has, after the initial restraint, a fuckin' good degree of desperation about it with the gob work tearing at the seams and almost deliciously breaking down in several parts. I love it when a band throws off the shackles and achieves a high level of success. Its the verse here that arouses me no end and just let yourself fall into the path of the runaway train and get yerself run right down – that’s all I ask. The shakedown and refuelling just after the central point is necessary and when the engine is stoked once again the impact is terrific as is the final 'fuck you' blast out - startling stuff and very much my kind of riot! Pass me a bottle of bronze I suddenly have an urge to crack my skull.
The next two tracks are perhaps the weakest thus far, well that was my initial thoughts but the first of the brace 'Hell Yeah' shakes it up more and more with each and every play and has reminiscences of the previous track with that unrelenting style where 3 Stone Monkey may find most success. The midway chop and chew is dissecting as planned and in no impedes the flow and we go straight into the pursuing 'Troublemaker' with all hopes still flying high. Again the band go at it full tilt but and the nice semi-sung, semi spoken narrative halfway is a neat touch but all should have been condensed into a much smaller package and delivered with more cohesion. Having said that I am all for bands chancing their arm and playing things with the unexpected and awkward at the fore of the thinking and so...yes, why the hell not? The lead up to the 5 minute mark seems to be the final slog out and is appreciated as such but alas these buggers throw another minute on top and mar the flavour. - oh bugger it!
'Propaganda' is a pounding tune with a good swing in the tail and really picks up this CD despite winding up to the last few numbers. Plucked in with almost a military style the song is soon buzzed up with rotted guitar and healthy unprocessed belief. The splash of the cymbals, the drive of the wired weaponry and the breathless attention of the gob over-ride the slightly duff production and turn out a right good romp. Harking back to the production standard - perhaps the grimy layer is what appeals (especially to me who likes a good mud bath) and maybe, adds essential character. Not everything that glistens is gold as they say! 'Leave' is shadowed, vague and somewhat frosted over - well that's the opening burst at least. Moving on and as the vocals join in there really isn't much change in proceedings with a somewhat lumbering song enhanced by good levels of power but held back by a general lack of variation. The lengthy running time doesn't help matters and this is a mere middling moment that fails to inspire although the texture holds promise. 'Taliban' is a pop-esque cut and has a direct drive that is again offering new territory to discover although once more the final strum should have been made earlier and something around the 2 minute mark would have had much more impact. Saying that I do like the song and from the initial march through the slack-wristed singing style to the final 'left-right' chant it has much to please. The angle the song comes at is solid too and this one gets by with a mere slap on the arse just to keep the players on their toes ha, ha.
'Say A Prayer' is perhaps the most garaged and dirtied track of the lot and the one that will find least favour with the masses but quite a hefty load of praise from me. I love the crummy scabbed up murk that comes from the battered speakers and when bands cough up this sticky style of sound (be it deliberate or not) and spit it forth with accuracy it don't half infect me. There is a sublime madness within the threadbare weave and the more I listen to this the more my mental state collapses and becomes enthralled. The blast to the last is artistry - love it! We close with '4 Him, 4 Her' a song with a cloaked initial approach, a smothered affect but with a nostalgic opening vibe. When the gobs come in the production persona is revealed as a duff dude and this song is the least profitable noise to spill out from the speakers. Below the scum the waters have something reminiscent of a good tune but this is too dirtied to fully applaud and assess. A shame because up to this point the band have somehow held it together primarily on the side of the positive - that's noise making folks!
So my final thoughts - well a band capable of much better but doing alright for themselves during this DIY album. The key comes as to if I would offer them a gig or two on the back of listening to this soiled sonic circle - the answers is a sure-fire 'yes'. Say what you will there is a reality here as well as some real good tunes on show and once more it only takes a little care, effort and time to reveal something good coming this way. The emphasis is now on the band to play some rattling shows and then release a CD that buries this fucker right at the back of the memory banks - challenge set dudes!
MAXIMUM RNR - THE BLACK AND WHITE YEARS
A real long offering this with a span of 4 years covered and with all tracks slamming away in hot arsed rock and roll style. The energy levels set are ludicrously high and the efficiency with which each track is delivered is exciting but, the question arises - are we getting too much of a good thing? We shall see! Maximum RNR are a bunch of Toronto highly tuned twats who have a restless urge to bang away at your musical instinct and make you bite hard at the proffered melodic bit. They have a choice DIY attitude and really don't give a fuck about making a fast buck or pretentious impression. The vibe I get here is of a band that want it and want it for all the right reasons. Let's not procrastinate - let's masturbate - throw one off the wrist no less to the vulgarity and violence that is the sound of a darn fine band.
We open with 2 songs from a 2002 release (on 7 inch and CD) with both songs loaded with sonic spunk and ejaculating with a big old rhythmic groan and thus causing quite a stir. 'Switchblade' makes the first cut and adopts a groove that aches of a New York Dolls sleaziness and yet has a more acute bite that is sodden with DIY drool. The production is garage-esque and the melodic cock is flaunted, flipped and flopped all over the place with typical rock and roll vulgarity. 'Cutthroat' neatly follows on the musical genital jaunt and after eager drums rush us in the guitars jive up the life and are soon joined by a singing stone that is rolling along in sub-snotted style. The hips are humping here big time, several semi-orgasmic moments are had and my main suggestion is to get bombed, get bummed and fuckin' take it like a man!
'Lucky Charm' and 'DFF' come at you from the archives of early 2003 and are a double act that continue the set theme with each one having enough bang in the buttocks to give you something close to a sexual sensation (if ye be that way inclined). The opening strings of the former song sound familiar and 'kick's-like' although I am sure there is another obvious comparison to make. The main construction of the ditty is a chop and cut approach that continues throughout but doesn't hinder the flow in anyway and only increases the somewhat 'funkiness' of the song. The wind up to the final full stop is well done indeed and the most exciting moment thus far. The latter offering is a full on racket that is opened by a slam and slice segment that develops into the usual flamboyant urgency. Still totally leaning towards the showy and intricate, with guitars left alone to exhibit themselves for all the lugs to applaud, the band do what they do so fuckin' well and rather than commit the offence of being overly technical they keep their puke multicoloured but so pompously offensive. 4 good blow-outs thus far - can't be bad!
The next brace of bruising bastards were released in 2004 (1000 CD's in fact) and go by the names of 'Stormfront' and 'Southern Comfort'. The first song begins in a slightly subdued fashion then picks up the pace and goes for it. Perhaps the least effective of the lot at this stage with the band almost bordering on the conservative. Not enough explosion for me and the running time is too long and although the incessant edge appeals I reckon this may be the knotted nipple in a collection of pert pimples. 'Southern Comfort' also fails to raise the erectile nerves but has a more thoughtful edge and somehow grows around the trunk of your attention and holds on for dear life. This close encounter forces one to be persuaded and as the listens mount up so does the appreciation. In a few months this may be deemed a classic! Ok perhaps not that great but not a bad un' at all!
The next 6 songs were released on 1000 CD's back in 2005 and are a fuckin' roaring sextet of amazing quality. 'Trust US' repeats the title via a slamming thump and then screeches into our soggy brains with harsh hardcore screamoid insistence. A brief trip around the tympanic toss bowl and with a final surge we are done. Segueing into 'Say What' we have a brief moment of smothered guitar before the lead gob lets rip with undeniable energy and thrusting vigour. Highly energetic, repetitive but delivered with such passion this is another short racket to get yer rocks off to. The strings are twanged with relish, the drums taken care of with ease and its all power to the final burning scream. 'Speaking In Tongues' has a delightful fire in the gut and stutters and staggers with glee before reeling away and donating a chorus that is sharp and to the point. This is a drug-like song with a flavour and hit you can't leave alone - just one more spin guv'nor! 'Turmoil' is backstreet blues punk with the bollocks bared and bouncing and the band impregnating with a flurry of mighty riffs and rolls. Like those Dolls of New York again but this time on 100% pure amphetamines this is crazed stuff that gets in the melodic veins and rushes like fuck. Everything races along and at just over 90 seconds we are left fucked and very much satiated. 'I Turn My Back' is a quicker scuttle though and at 10 seconds slaps up the listening bitch and leaves one gagging for another scene of hardcore pornography. Wonderful stuff and into 'I Hate The Cold' and without apology we a given another exceptional episode of masterful 200mph madness. A rhythm is raped, a mania bled dry - the pace is full on, the orchestration as tight as fuck, the overall aftertaste impressive. Within the cacophonic cauldron is a moment were things bubble less and the guitar simmers with underlying threat. The heat rises and then the final shakedown scorches - phew, magnificent!
A more metallic cock rock effort next that came as part of a two song 7 inch back in 2006. 'Ire Of The Ram' has a deep resonant rock approach and one can almost have sleepless nights worrying about the band assaulting one whilst wearing nothing more than very revealing spandex pants. Despite this the band tackle a new style and come forth from the fray with a solid degree of success. This one opens up new vistas and many who await on the other side will lap it up. I ain't no sure fire metal head but hey this is good. The flipside entitled 'Deep Inside The Tracks' outstays its welcome by about a minute or so but is nevertheless played with true expertise, absorbing conviction and hip-thrusting intent. A certain bitchiness from the fore blazes away with some solid strums and drums before being interspersed with slower plodding segments that just hinder the flow. When the accelerator is pumped to the floor of course the band blossom and that is how these guys do it best - fast as fuck and most glorious - not bad here but there are better tracks. 'The Wheel' is a mouth-watering piece of rattling urgency that finds the band once more at their exhilarating best. Again many multi-faceted ingredients are thrown into the over-heated melting pot and what the band create is spellbinding sonica to burn you out before your time. So much energy is crammed in to 2 minutes and 20 seconds of noise that the acoustic underpants are sure to explode - if so, then shower me in shite!
The next 4 songs were released in October 2010 on a variety of coloured vinyl’s which shows the band are retaining a thirst for all things retro and assorted. 'Kill Tom Cruise' is a wonderfully agreeable sentiment and the raging song skuzzes in and drives with power shuffles alongside some dark and demonic vocalisation. A real shift in technique and toneage this and still a mighty impressive blow out. Surging along and into the deliciously entitled 'Welcome To Sodomy'. Again pure hard edge and more satanic of aspect this one belts along and breaks up from the central point into a 'smash yer head into a wall and enjoy' moment of delectable riffage. A scream finalises the track and no sooner has it expired than the tinned drums are at ya and throwing you in to the more controlled 'Foot In The Grave'. Almost black metal but with the usual Maximum RNR over-indulgence. Out of the last three this is the least effective but still has that significant relish and zeal so as to capture your ear holes. 'Release' closes this quadro-horror cut and is over in less than 1 and a half minutes. The band still retain a rapid-fire approach, as well as the new found sabled sonic style. The result - yes - we still are on a high folks. 'Global Supremacy' follows and is a real gritted and shitted explosion that roughs it out with heavy tones and tireless rhythm. How the crew maintain the wild approach is admirable and hey if you are gonna go for it then why hold back? Full on catapulting abandon and only coming out the other end as a listenable product due to the fact that these fuckers can play!
6 to go and as a precedent is set – let us be swift shall we? 'Switchblade' and 'Lucky Charm' are as reviewed earlier but are previously unreleased 'live' versions from 2003. Both are mightily powerful and have me altering my previous opinion not one jot. 'Officer Down' is from a 2004 compilation CD and is again crapping forth a bold discordance filled with distorting and perspired passion - nice. The folding 3 were recorded in 2006 and are now allowed to see the light of day. 'America' is a trifle subdued as though the band ran out of dosh and couldn't afford a studio to get the best from the raving song, either that or the band were a little off form - not my fave! 'Dogs Will Hunt' is back biting the balls and exhibiting what the band do best although I am still unsure about the final production values whereas the sting of the 'Queen Wasp' is more like it but hangs around the noisy nest for too long and sours its own noxious nobber - oh well.
So what a journey and despite the last few not giving me one last super buzz this band have made one great big fuck off impression and this is a sonic circle to chase down and enjoy in varied sized dosages, whatever the mood desires. The band are up for it and this is reflected throughout this fast, flashing CD - have some - it will wake thee up no end!
THE SUN EXPLODES - EMERGENCE
I received this CD from Prescription PR Press and was informed it was right up my street and something which I would thoroughly enjoy. Well - in both parts a mistake was made as my punk rock passion found very little here to be aroused by. Do not misunderstand me - this is a solid CD but let's get one thing straight from the start - I personally loathe it. Too fiddly, too messy and way too technical for this lover of all things raucous and natural and so I continue with the review, more then ever, adopting the outside perspective and trying to be as darn fuckin' genuine as possible. I am not here to lie, to create a false sense of well being - I am here to be up front, fair and hopefully positively critical - like it or lump it - that's how I operate, and always with the bands interests at heart! I won't dawdle and over analyse with this one but pick chosen tracks and give you a flavour - read on and appreciate my dilemma.
The crew from Carlisle open with 'Emergence' a song that pitter patters in with twinkling guitar and droplet drums. The radiance increases in intensity and we are suddenly plunged into bubbling waters were we find a slow swirling leviathan responsible for the sudden upheaval. Orchestrated, dramatic and as any good opener should do, sets the scene. Not bad and although not an actual song the essence and ambience achieved is noteworthy. 'Honour Bound' comes next and is a construction that is just too stuttered in effect to gain favour from me. The vocals are very clean and of that 'rocked up' generic pit that is way too polished for this old fruit. A backdrop in interrupting viciousness is added by snarled shouts and overly technical twiddlings and as we dive deeper the density of the rhythmic waters creates greater pain or pleasure dependant on where you prefer to swim. I don't like this one jot but can envision many who will - each to their own.
'Second Sight' is a 4 minute 29 second journey (nearly a full minute less than the last track) and once more tosses about with many twists and turns leaving one confounded rather than impressed. Saying that, when the band do get down and aim for something nasty they achieve but then fuck it all up with some sub-hippy switch off sequence that is done with exactness and professionalism but is so out of sync as to be almost 'uncomfortable'. The band does have belief though and is chancing its arm (which in itself defies rules) and despite the whole concoction generally turning my stomach upside down I can see many aspects that I favour. Many good moments that don't work together - like have a bowl of peas, strawberries, giant puffballs and ice cream - individually great - together - fucky, mucky, yucky (kidspeak)!
'Resplendence' is a pompous title if ever there was one and I am guessing more of the same this way doth come. Pulsating in with a somewhat robotic chant the soundscape is seared over with banshee wails before settling down and floating around like a wistful wanderer with no direction. The drums rat-a-tat, the vocals chords tighten and an upsurge is had. Further trimmings are added for the sake of it and again it is more of the same. As soon as a fluttering bird of perfect harmony is grasped the band let it go and chase another acoustic flyer. 4 down and no favourites - uuurgghh! I have to say the climax of this latter track, no matter it sounding like a piece of retro prog rock extravagance does indeed shine and is the best cut of the CD so far!
'We're Not Soldiers' ponses about the periphery of many winning arenas and starts with a lovely glisten that captures the attention. Further acoustic touches raise interest and then an unexpected vocal snarl is followed by bomb laden guitar riffs that leaves one bewildered. The original vocal style found earlier in the CD returns but is mixed with the more raging tones and so fares much better. Just as one presumes the song is going to erupt the band fiddle around a little too much and over-delay the orgasmic factor. Still, this isn't a poor do and the solo section cuts many a turn and is somewhat optimistic and well-oxygenated. Futuristic overtones are added, the production holds firm despite the overload of sonic input and perhaps my resistance is weakening. 'Ignition' and 'Line One' convince me more and more that I am wasting my reviewing time here. Why slog on at something that just isn't me. I have had this CD a few weeks now and played, contemplated, played once more and re-pondered These two tracks are more of the same and when combined make for a plus 10 minute listening horror show for yours truly. It is one of those rare occasions where I skip forward to the closing tracks rather than criticise for the sake of it.
The penultimate track is called 'Pandemonium' and begins with a haunting guitar sequence that is seemingly played just before the surface of some dark, chilled waters. I await what follows and it is in fact sweet, vacuous fuck all. Where the hell have the lads pulled this from. From 2 lengthy aches to one intriguing voiceless snippet of keyed pleasure - I ain't complaining. We close with 'Dead/Alive' a song that embraces all that has gone before, leaves me equally dumbfounded and yet respectful of what the band do. Throughout it has been more than obvious that I have struggled but I still deem what the band are doing they should undoubtedly stick with. They do it well and if you have got this far enjoying the technicalities, the intricacies and idiosyncrasies then you will be well pleased by this effort, me....well you know the score.
So I was told I would be impressed and I am not. The band are artistes with a superfluity of talent and strong musicianship as well as an eye for the more overly fussy orchestration where the punker doth not reside. Totally not my thing and I hope nothing of this ilk comes my way anytime soon. Good luck to the band in their endeavours but alas a Fungal thumbs down.
THE CAROLOREGIANS - FAT IS BACK
The noise here is reggaefied and funked up as well as salted with a good dosage of retro production that gives the whole offering a somewhat familiar and comforting aspect. The band say that their brand of output is 'deep fried' and I can understand that with a real full on flavour that hits the sonic taste buds and tickles its way into a feeling that is positive without being overly so. Hailing from Belgium these Euro outpourers are making slow and steady ripples and it is much to my annoyance that I missed them at a local Manchester show recently and may have to wait sometime before a return visit - bastards! And so here are some words from Fungal in the meantime based on what I hear and not influenced in any way by a 'live' viewing - here's hoping for some accuracy!
'Fat is Back' and 'Forward' are the two opening tacks and the best way to some up both these fine melodic canoodles is as rhythmic and lyrically sparse. The main essences with the opener is a stroll jive based primarily on olden keys where effect over-rules affect and the aim was to keep things funky and simple. There is no baggage with this one, no hidden agenda - grasp the band by the hand and stroll on in further to this CD. The pursuing track is of a more reggaed flavour with a stylophone sauce smoothly gliding and then splattering the upper layers and making for something quite alternative. The general vibe is absorbingly delightful and without pointless touches that would be liable to depress rather than impress. Two basic starters with a sound taste and now onto the next course.
'Donna, Donna' has a more craving approach that dabbles on the cusp of urgency but still retains the casual aspect so indispensable to the Caroloregians output. Here we have rich, emotive gob work interspersed with those archaic keys, all splashed over with fidgety drums and underlain by some weighty bass moves. We build up towards the closure into something reminiscent of a thrill and wonder if the CD is going to take on an all new persona. What follows destroys that thought and is a fuckin' startling piece of instrumentalisation that is so cheesy, corned, familiar and, most crucially, comforting! Tinkled, twinkled, sprinkled - 'Back In The Day' is a beautiful little switch off snippet without any profound thought needed. Each key is seduced into submission and makes the exact note required and so sustains that smooth, friendly, unaffected fascination that holds me aurally agog for all 2 minutes and 51 seconds - thank ye my wonderful players.
'City Life' is blatantly more funked with a creeping suspiciousness almost like a surreptitious burglar on the prowl for an easily stolen soul. There are aromas of US ghetto pool rooms and 70's black porn where psychedelic throbbers stood proud and did their dirty deeds into the most hairiest pussies on earth. Think about it and you’ll get the mood of this jiving outlaw of a song - its the best comparison I can make. 'From Congo Square..' is a pure hark back to soul city shenanigans where many a wise ass strutted his stuff with one helluva chip on the shoulder. Shafted perhaps, easily grafted no doubts and punctuated with cool dude plucks and fucks and containing a naughty, naughty odour. Sniff it, have fun and do ya cruising baby!
'Bedtime Stories' is a fluffed up pillow, a comfy musical mattress nay a warm duvet of a song under which to snuggle. Again everything is gently caressed, everything is aching with relaxation and sun-tinted ease. The band create a mood, the mood is low key and without any hint of discomfort - look, just enjoy will ya. 'Noonish' is more tranquillity and reticent rhythm that has curious quirkiness and simplistic vintage vibe. This brace of songs slot together like two plush peas in a velvet pod and like I say - don't think about it, just wallow in the melodic mud. 'Undercover Agent' raises the pulses a little but only ever so slightly and yet again we find ourselves in that wonderful heavy-lidded pose the crew adopt so well. The essence here is swaggered with an opening strum up that disguises the fact that we are only ever set to reach cruise mode. A frosted number and just doing enough to keep Fungal intrigued.
'Mokka 36' trips in on calypsoid drums before mooching in the musical undergrowth with a jerky quirky influence of yore. Heavily keyed up once more with a jabbed bass line and other light wristed company. No vocals yet again and usual fare for this band. 'Iris Skank' is a bouncing bean or so it seems. As soon as the beat is upped the band switch off and cruise on down to the finishing line in lazy style. For me the first error as this is a little too levelled out and without that spark much needed at this stage in proceedings. An overdose of instrumentals for sure and although the previous ones have turned on my musical member I feel myself much in need of some vocal Viagra. No sooner requested than prescribed and the following tablet of toneage is dropped with pleasure. 'You Got To Be A Man' is more old school sound with a sub-fairground hint, a loose flutter of something Motown thrown in, a smattering of something soul-ish and there ya go - at this stage you should expect some high quality, no nonsense artistry very much of a strict style. Why waffle on when the same standard this way pours!
'Biscuit Serenade' starts in a joyous way and then turns into a beast that could almost be the devilish work of Mr Hank Marvin's. Very particular notes are given birth to via the 6 stringed sword and one expects the deep cuts to keep on coming over a good long stretch but alas at just below two and a half minutes we are done. Again another voiceless offering as is the closing Egyptoid crawl entitled 'Quagga'. A slightly disturbing piece and a strange way to end a CD of this type. There ya go - it is as you may probably have guessed - or not!
So what an odd CD. On the one hand the whole concoction is well crafted and quite a rare commodity in today's over-saturated sonic arena but why are the band so reluctant to add vocals to many of their offerings? In the main I like this though but do recommend they put a few more standardised songs in their next collection. The choice though, as ever, is the bands and I would be more than happy to hear more tinklings from a crew who are quite happy to leave the ranting and raving to others. A good CD to spin between bouts of violent hardcore - the contrast is stunning!
THE SKINTS - PART AND PARCEL
Sublime reggae ska dubbology here from a band growing in stature each and every day. Formed in 2005 the band have built up a good head of steam and after a successful release on Do The Dog Records and a solidly acclaimed tour with The King Blues the band now find themselves well known, with a rosy future in front of them and with this latest release on Bomber Music Ltd looking to continue the success levels. This is my second chance to review some of their stuff and after only one 'live' viewing I am wondering what this one will bring?
'Rise Up' fast forwards in and continues with a sombre tone straight from the ghetto before a proclamation breaks the air and a skankoid strum encourages. Rappoid gangster verbals ensue before the charmed MC delicacies from frontlass Marcia gently tap out a more wised up sensation. Slanged and low slung the melodies are clued in as is the wordage and one sees more than a strut in the whole concoction. When the band get to the repeat 'Rise Up' request the song pinnacles and as we wind down to the finale the fatted bass is noticed more and the package is somewhat complete. ‘Ratatat' is an oddity and has the lady in the lead rolling out the wordage by the bucket load before getting caught up in the clockwork mechanisms of this strange, somewhat awkward song. Bad ass man vitriol overtakes along with a skewed whine and many a pop and prickle moment for company. We re-route back to the lady lyrics and we crawl to what is, a hard earned finale. I love the first one and remain unconvinced by this - just the way it hits me I'm afraid.
'Can't Take No More' begins with an honest tinkle before waltzing along with a thick syrupy serenade that really hits the right rhythmic hot spots. Undulating and meandering all at the same time this wavy weave is a gently applied musical massage that releases the appreciative endorphins within each 'wanna dance' muscle and soon gets you swaying to the sensuality. As predicted the production is pure and precise and is a theme that is apparent throughout. Perhaps not the most instantly magnetic number but a lovely moment nonetheless. A crisp compliment of strums, some ghostly yet lullabying 'whoo hoo's' and in we go to the more obvious ska attack that is 'Live East Die Young'. Rapped again and rippled with rolled out factual lyrics where a lass gets a scumbag giving her a duff deal and a young chap gets some bird for dabbling in a druggy game. Both tales are a harsh lesson in life we hear of oh so frequently and The Skints narrate it with aplomb - nice.
'Ring, Ring' is a sloppy number that really does fuck all for this furied and fired up punker. It really is a spongy buttock of a number with a soft pastel pinky winky flush that needs reddening up by a bloody good kicking. You get the drift I am sure - too lightweight, too twee, too fuckin' prissy missy sunshine fanny. But...from an external perspective this is a cosy tune that drips forth and cascades over the lugs that need a chill rather than a thrill. The worst for me, maybe the best for you - I will argue the toss though! The somewhat slushed up theme continues via the slightly calypsotic tumble christened 'Lay You Down'. Again of soft lens shades with little threat and little nouse the key and we are left with just a gentle tinkle for the ones in a soppy state of mind to jig around too. The album started fine and welcomed one in but in usual Fungal truth these last two have left me outside in the cold. They are well played and of the desired mode but I just find no persuading factor to force me to praise and play with my integrity in tact. No, definitely not for me but that doesn't make em' utter duds - use ya fuckin' loaf will ya.
Swiftly we roll on and 'Sunny, Sunny' shines but not as bright as it should. It is a soothing number with an irritating droning pipe in the background that annoyingly detracts from the main chorus particularly at the latter end. ‘Fuck’, it drives me mad. A careless mistake I feel but one many may find adds a strange sort of comfort - maybe I am just too tetchy sometimes. 'Rubadub' continues with a bigger, bolder bounce and snags up a fluttering effect as well as still producing that streetwise essence. The zest is tingling and fresh and when we hit a slower sequence later in the track I find myself toying with disappointment but realising the contrast is needed. Almost a clockwork funfair build is had to the closing stroke and I have no real complaints whatsoever. 'Up Against The Wall Riddim' is a curio that is punctured throughout with spannered keys and crooked twanging springs. Like a space oddity gone wrong via a misdirected skatellite this one will appeal to the chavved skanker and will undoubtedly be enjoyed over a bifta or two. A bit too wise guy for me and despite the quirky usefulness of the tuneage I find the gangsta inflection not to my taste. The band do what they do well though but have me split fifty fifty as to their produce.
2 left with the penultimate puke slaved to the name that is 'Soundboy'. A strange mix with moments cascading with eerie essence, moments kissed with bad ass intent and yet overall a song that seems to erupt from the loins of a scene far removed from the gutterpunk grime where I do dwell and far removed from the typical toneage I expected (rightly or wrongly) from the band. If put on the spot and given a 'Hit' or 'Miss' disc to vote with then the latter judgemental circle would be raised but applause would be given for the musicianship and ditty designing talent on show - just not for me dudes! 'You Better' begins with crystal clear words and leads us to the final full sonic stop in a caring, embracing way that finds The Skints succeeding more and hitting, at least, this listeners acoustic hotspots. Gentle, somewhat shy yet effectively grabbing the inner vibe - now that's more like.
So as ye may guess this reviewer still ain't taken in by The Skints musical charm and remains impressed by some and out of favour with several. A few songs slip by and leave no impression so the end result is entirely mixed and a definite decision cannot be made. What I can say is this - fans will continue to enjoy, a few outsiders will be drawn in, and the majority of the punk pit where I dwell will not be moved one inch. It's a chosen style some like, some don't but with a solid production and promotion team this lot will do alright for themselves I am sure. Right back to the gutter!