FUNGALPUNK - CD REVIEWS Page 65
ADDICTIVE PHILOSOPHY - STUDIO
A strange crusted form of DIY skank this that is as honest as the day is long, undercooked but still with enough noisy nutrients to satisfy. This lot have been one of the most elusive crews on the circuit and circumstance and sincere bad luck have combined to have me only just have caught up with the crew at a 'live' viewing which I was thoroughly entertained. So what about the recorded shit I hear you ask - well here is the review of these Derby deviants and hopefully I have captured a multi-faceted sound and been as honest as per - it is what I attempt to do and nothing more. Read on, feedback or fuck off - blah, blah, blah!
A backstreet sinister mode hits us first before fracturing into a rickety home-made sub-skank that rants and raves about the negativity and general evils poured out via that constipated crap-hole known as 'Telly'. The frontman is almost abandoned through the verseage and left to give a loquacious tirade against all the box of doom has to offer and, take away. Guitars are refreshingly light and oppose the gritted gob work. The chorus slips by with ease and into a harsher second verse we plunge with the players becoming more enthused by the second. Yeah I like it but suggest you read the words as you go along so as to participate in the song as much as you can and get into the main drift. The musical intercut is smooth and foaming and as we wind down to the last blast we know we have been given a good un' to start with. '(G) Rave' follows and pisses about on the cusp of experimentation which has me tentative on the key tapping front. Eventually we are allowed to hear the band off the leash and what we get is a rave against the rave - hating and seething at the thought of drugged hazes and flashing light blazes. The song winds itself up into a frenzy and, although the prescribed sax persuasion tries to relieve, the mix is a harsh one that tickles the punked naughty bits (nowt wrong with me being polite now and again - lasses present and all that). The song explodes via a 'Rawr, rawr' repetition and one knows minds are reduced to mush but we can’t help admiring a band knocking out a fair racket - sweet!
'Supernatural Race Fiend' begins with zest, is calmed by more sax smoothiness, and then...offers a casual mode of mouth work that works against the jingly busy bug backdrop and creates something attractively awkward but a noise that takes some adjusting to. The production is as sharp as needs be but the band get through with guile and a challenging structure that makes one...(important word here)...THINK! 'Burning Heart' next and the least favoured snack from the fruit rhythmic tree cultivated by the AP brigade. Mistimed, too unsteady on its feet and not really grasping a true thread. I feel the band have just missed their own self-set targets here and need to be more definite in their approach. The band most probably disagree and think this is the best - it’s all opinions ya know.
'RIP' is the directional determination I was talking about and sets out to tear it up and have done all in good time - and that it does. Whipping along with a venomous edge aimed at....mmmm...perhaps a peddler of space dust or maybe a junkie celeb. Either way (or no way) a good swift rogering for sure! 'Save The Last Dance For Me (Richie B)’ planes down the upper surface of sound and gets back to a more level route with a less harsh edge. A plod along soppy song with, I presume, something personal going on. Skankily hopped, intercut with a fair instrumental but just lacking that finishing cut. A fair chuck but not quite a coconut this time.
On we plough with 'Yesterday's Clothes' adorned in more effect and building up then tumbling down before belting along in anarchic fashion but with a sense of control. The clutterbucket, utterly fuck it chaos isn't wasted and when the crew take a chance the gamble seems to come off. Industrious and on the cusp of disaster - yes - liking it! 'All I Want' is a great sing-a-long gutter chant that desires something better than this shithole we live in. The opening burst is sound but when the banshee passionately pleads 'Stop It You'll Ruin It For Everyone' I feel the band hit a new pinnacle and find a state of play to hammer away at. The cross-over he/she style works and when suddenly followed after the second loop by a reggaefied stated and sedated moment the whole concoction shines even brighter. The fact that band always keep one wondering when the explosion will come is sweet and when the lass gets involved once more the ecstatic heights are regained. Best song of the lot! 'How Can I Tell You I Hate You (Without Making You Cry)' captures an old-school skank vibe that is teased out of the players and finds them triumphing with toneage where there is time to position themselves and the notes that they produce. A carefully plucked number that holds up the headlong rush and comes in at a position where one needs to gather ones thoughts. The relaxed, absorbing effect is just what the CD needed at this point and yet another good tune to applaud.
The final three shall get a flurry of wordage and as per, will get the assessing job done in tidy style. 'Code Of Conduct' begins with a strummed six-string solo that searches out a few awkward angles and almost comes unstuck after what I presume is a deliberate brace of unexpected pauses. The tumble that follows is relieving and thrown off the sonic wrist with ‘zoned in’ determination and unrelenting vigour. A real beehive of noteage and clattering chaos that is only just on the right side of order. The result - a punked kafuffle that kisses the sweet ass of hardcore and gets duly infected but not too much, therefore allowing the crew to keep their own recognisable edge.
'Stranglehold' rises with cymbalisation before taking on a ready pulsation that holds considerable threat. A rise and then all hell breaks loose that sees the band at the precipice and forming what is a right good old noisy mess up. Before the crazed crack up has fully enveloped you we are back to a schizoid change of state. The band are playing with your musical mentality at this stage and if you are all up for a bit of exploration that is a rewarding trek then…indulge. A guitar burst is hectic and the all components are joyously whizzed up, fucked up - blah. 'Hungry Little Worms (In The Soil)' is one of those that creeps inward and won't be shook loose. An odd little weirdo this one that keeps in accordance with the CD's general routine but adds something of a cuckooed edge. I am convinced I don't like this one but totally taken by the quirky style and so I find myself participating nonetheless. The mastery at creating a deceptive ditty has me bewildered - go on ya fuckin' buggers - I'll call it a good un'.
So Addictive Philosophy have been caught up with on a 'live' basis and now on CD and as a result will be playing a Fungal show soon. A good, honest band this with no out of sync accoutrements to turn things against all the aesthetic qualities that they create. Several sonic colours are given, the delivery believable - and you get a tucked away bonus song - review it yerself and then get to a gig to appreciate further. Nice!
DOGTOWN REBELS - DEMO
A newly stitched up band from the tattered remnants of other constructions, made up of the trio Chris Lloyd, Rob Baylis, Wal Jarvis, Clara Wiseman and Ian Stapleton. Lots of punked experience is thrown into the new effort with the influences listed as from The Clash, The Jam, Cocksparrer, UK Subs to Social Distortion, Kraut and Bad Religion (sounds promising). Pilfering a bit more textualisation from the web this may give some clue as to why the expectations are high 'The current participants are current members or ex members of UK Subs, The Destructors, Zero Tolerance, Red Flag 77, Noise Agents and Dangers Close ' - and as they say 'fuckin' hell'. So what does this interesting collective have to offer? Here goes a review, up front, from a sincere punk heart and hopefully with encouraging critique at the helm.
'Drink To Get Fucked' is a somewhat bare boned basic affair that opens with an exposed wire, fuses into a whining build and then fuzzes up into a right old rough and cut DIY spark out. The mix is singed and the edge is acute thus making for a dirty delivery that takes you down a trail the rest of the CD doesn't follow. It is as almost as if the band are just dipping unwashed toes at this curtain raising moment and although a raw debut there is something to entertain (although in the most primitive way). 'Haunt You' is straight into the forward roll and has a well restrained essence that gradually develops into a very likeable and well structured song. When opening out into the more chorus encrusted landscape greater clarity results in a finer appreciation being given and I am certainly happy to play this over and over and give kind praise. The vocals add a good undulation of spirit against some expected organised musicianship and I like the way this CD is going. It retains ethics I like and has many a good tune, talking of which...
'Gang Warfare' has a hard title but is something of a light song with a desire to maintain a regulated kafuffle rather than an all out thrash and bash riot. The decision is a wise one and after the delicate intro the action is organised, tuneful and surely of a strain that will stick in the cerebral matter. It repeats itself perhaps a little too often (a bit like a bowl of curry flavoured beans) but it ain't bad - partake and rhythmically belch thy verdict! 'One Way Ticket' begins with subdued rumblings before drums and bass unfold and get the song going with focus. The verse and chorus merge together we slippery ease and snaked strings solo out and take us into the second repeat section. A good level of urgency is included and as we move to the final wrap-around wind up the song is completed in a fashion soaked in aplomb. 'Song For The Fallen' swiftly pursues and is that time of the disc when beers should be raised and throats cleared when all and sundry are required to join in and pay homage to those that are no longer with us. A unifying song that, with a little cheesy polish, could become an anthem. More heartfelt passion is needed, the crew supply and what we get is the one that most will pick out as their firm favourite. I hate the traditional routine, I hate predictability but...songs of this ilk are there to be enjoyed and are a necessary message to all that we are in this together no matter how many fakers try and throw you out of the believing circle. Not a bad ditty at all!
A brace left and 'What's Your Problem' gets back to the more soiled sonica and slamming style. The bass relishes this one and drives the main functioning system of sound along with guitar getting minimal, drums busy and tongue on its oral toes. Fast and to the point and intrinsically punk as you know it! 'Shotdown In Paradise' is a fairly decent song that again aches for a few extra flamboyant touches. Tidy, etched with a dog house production, oozing insight but just needing a finishing acoustic adornment to make it stand out from the cacophonic crowd. Maybe a skid in the guitar stroke, maybe a sharper execution in the final mix thus creating a more defined and refined contrast between each player and yet maintaining unity - not easy but Fungal likes to squeeze hard.
There you have it and loads of promise and loads of pleasure to be had. I hope Dogtown Rebels do alright for themselves and I expect with their experience and contacts they may very well do so. Check em' out and if ya get chance have a peek - here's to more recordings and extra frilly edges.
NO VICTOR - ANGRY GARAGE
I know a few good men, I know many bad men, I have a few people on the list that it is my pleasure to converse with and one of those is a dude called Daz Leake - a chap enthused about noise and who takes it all in, believes it and has a passion built on foundations that lack ego, idiocy and sub-text. Now I like that. Add to this that the charming fellow in question sent me this CD to review and I offer him my generous thanks. 4 tracks and from a band out of Anaheim, CA where they ply their trade to critical acclaim without really giving a fuck. There is an air of madness around the band and whether or not they take themselves seriously is up for debate but the 4 tracks here show they are on the right tracks to tearing some seriously lax arseholes to pieces. There is much fusion going on here so before them there ring-pieces get ravaged I'd better puke up my low-down.
'Just So' slaps and tickles with an obvious but irresistible tub thump. Strings get stretched and screwed before a leering snotted up vocal style slops all over the rhythmic underlay. The chorus follows and is simple enough with a 'bang, bang, bang' wind up/down and, essential to this opening fuck, it has inklings of something psychobilly, something garaged something just plain old punked. The temperament nicely frays and the band confess to being 'so screwed up' which is a relief - here’s me thinking they may be pretending. Sweet opener and into 'Stix And Stonez' we proceed. Glassy guitar work welcomes before with rumble onwards with power increased and swing perpetuated by a rock and roll injection. Restrained work is attended to with neat hands and the song is a regular piece of riffage and nothing more. It is a swift chunk that is over sooner than one expects - mmm - difficult to grasp these buggers.
'Don't Fall' marches in with military gusto before winding up with a hollowed warning to all those prone to getting doey-eyed and having ones heart impaled by the arrow of Cupid. The mix accentuates the delivery and after the initial vocal sections a crystal shard of an instrumentalisation glistens bright before we tail away to the final burst. 2 minutes long and seemingly a whole quicker. Puncturing the silence comes 'Gun Ya Down', the most well constructed number with a verse that oozes hesitancy and one that competes well with the open, unified chorus outbursts. Guitars are taut, sticks banging and rolling with a clean efficiency, the gob still as raw as at the start. Another interesting break has the six strings squelched, the 4 wires maintaining structure and as we go forth to the last hurrah we have a sensation that this band ain't half done themselves proud.
4 taster tracks and a lot to work with and much to enjoy. No Victor came highly recommended and who am I to argue. These 4 tracks set out scaffolding on which to build around - the future could be rosy for the No Victor boys.
SUICIDE BY COP - HOC VITUM NOVUM
Erudite, cultured, thoughtful and without any heed paid to silly sub-generic orders and rhythmic realms. We have here a gathering of minstrels playing music they like to play and, I strongly feel, doing it darn bloody well. After approximately 3 years playing mostly local gigs the band are gradually stretching out and despite losing a member (not in the vulgar sense that is) there is still progress being made. The band currently comprises of Kaz Waye, Steve Mallet, Steve Ward and Alec Marlow, each one bringing a unique brand of musical knowledge and insight thus offering enormous possibilities for the SBC future. Here's the latest smattering of sonica and some reasons why you should take time to a check out and appreciate an intriguing band.
'This Modern Life' skips in with a tidy, gratifying vibe that promises something of melodic order that will be easily chewed by the musical chompers out there. Kaz at the fore kicks in with her documentary-style rawness and assured vocal range and what unravels is a tale of double standards, double meanings, double losses. Stuck in a rut, bleak as fuck - the narration of what is deemed perfect is nothing more than a reality lie that the Suicide By Cop brigade give a new outlet to. From open wound verses that pull no punches to harmonised choruses that wonderfully juxtapose what we have is a monochrome delivery coloured by a variation of greys only the most insightful can find. There is an unrelenting drive throughout, all components are unified and I just have to applaud the approach. A good start always calls for a good follow up and what we get is the delicious prime cut entitled 'Tunnel Vision'. Opening with delicacy, roughed up with taut she-vocals that almost break before being nicely sliced up via great male gobs who supply extra spirit this is a bold commencement to a song that builds in sonic stature with each rotation of the silver circle. Away from the ‘boom-tit’ orthodox overused approach of the punk pit, outside of the polished and indulgent cock rock box this has idiosyncrasies of both arenas but is stirred up with the bands own cultured hands and then sprinkled with a personal touch thus being borne as something rather special. The wind ups in tension are not unnoticed and the general excitement they create transfers into the rest of the delivery. Great stuff.
'One More Day' is the most sobered piece and comes at ya with a casual essence with all hands on deck and ordered to make a highly eloquent and listenable voyage. Don't read too much into this - it is simple tuneage, created for the sheer joy of it and done with such intuitive aplomb. The music is kept regular and without undue affect, the vocals as 'genuine' as you like and with a few sub-sections where the band offer new tangents this is yet another tune to clap to and just fuckin' relish. I can see many a punk turning away from this and stating quite ignorantly that this is outside their 'deemed' listening box. Good riddance - if you don't appreciate quality - kiss my arse and fuck off! The closure and 'I Want To Be' is a cute jaunt, rippled with texture and bubbling belief. The basic vibe pulsates before breaking out into a chorus that once more begins at one level and works up to a self-appointed zenith that embraces one of the many great facets of a solid band. My advice is to play and play again and throw off your restricting sonic shackles and accept this as sincerely good music with a zest, a vigour, a product of attentive ears - and then - thank the playing minstrels for their efforts.
Suicide By Cop are a particular favourite crew of mine and why the hell they have only played one gig for me is truly my error. I have many bands to deal with and sometimes the obvious get overlooked. I will be correcting my record and encouraging others to give em' a gig or two as well. A must, a must and please - keep on dudes and dudette and drain yerselves dry - a pleasure and...thank you!
HOSTAGES FOR SMACK - SELF TITLED
Hailing from Hertfordshire this band began creating noise in 2004, before not long after, splitting up. Reforming in 2011 the crew have a new hunger and are trying to get out there and spread their word. Punk with a hardcore edge and a very much 'we threw this together ourselves' strongly suggesting a willingness to chance their arm what we have here is a rough and ready cut with much to ponder, a little to criticise and a fair bit to praise. The bands greatest asset is that they try and embrace the entire punky spectrum and don't stick to one sub-generic style which, of course will fall short in parts and obviously succeed in others. But...what is the overall average of output and are the band wise in their decision? Here goes Fungal again, in with the boot and the belief and...constructive honesty. I am going to be structured here and not roll off down the hill of digression, wish me well.
We are introduced with a 46 second cut of abstract anarchic acoustic art that instantly displays an intent not to be predictable, not to lean towards the obscure but to throw in variation. The segments are crudely torn apart before being tossed into the 'fuck it' trashcan and then in we go to the hardcore lashings of 'LAPD'. A seething cauldron of fast, vicious hammering flat-lined noise that hits hard over and over again with no rise, no fall - just one constant assault. A transient instrumental piece shatters and is lost beneath a rapid wind down and into track three we go with barely time to think. 'The Good, The Bad, The Pure Hated' is a contrasting concoction that, for me at least, combines elements of snot and roll, garage and Oi and thus creates a deformed musical mule to ride along with and occasional get kicked by. Verse is arrogant, chorus honest, opinion satisfactory and a song that grows with its rusted yet melodic guitar and low-slung swagger. 'Just Wanna Fuck' is a dancey trancey piece that once more alters theme with some techno twiddlings escorted by some bint getting banged and making a meal of it. An attempt at erotica perhaps that, for something such as this, seems to prematurely ejaculate and leave a funny aftertaste. The key though is the fleeting nature of this song and rather than penetrate its own arse it crudely interrupts and leaves one post-coitally thoughtful which...in some mad way wins favour.
'Cries For Help' scrapes a triumphant barrel and scuzzes things up via a routined riot that sears throats and turns faces to a furied shade of red. High octane, amphetamine mania - no sooner settled than a sun breaks through and burn blasts the scene to bits. A shudder in the ground and segueing in is the similar 'Tonight'. Equally swift, equally aggressive - more of the same and with the brace not making the 3 minute mark when combined we have a copulating cacophony that succeeds. Very rough, very ready - roll with it! 'Home To Valhalla' begins with crisp notes that then get a little crumpled. A creeping piece of semi-rock that yet again varies the spices. A yearning pang with smoked and almost croaked vocals this is a piece for the more discerning rocker who likes a long tickle rather than a quick thrill. Good but too long for sure. 'Runaway' takes us back 30 years to a b-style sonic punkage that has honesty running deep within the vein. Pulse perpetuates the opening and then a noisy lad’s together chant leads us to the raw, under-dressed verse that makes the song what it is. Hammered rantings and then into the basic chorus we go - repeat. Intensity, from the throat particularly, increases towards the closing whine and throughout we are served up a thoughtful noise that helps Hostages For Smack escape any definite pigeonhole.
'Razorblade Blues' is a mucky old bastard with a sub-psycho streak, a mile wide with gushing rocked relish and a full bloodied groove. A good riff is caught, a seasoning of sleaze poured in, a good Brillo pad working over given - mucky music that works. 'Fight For Your Right' is a communal expulsion of acoustic 'wake up call' spirit that is straight from the 'sit in' and into your face. Another tune that has you wondering if this is a fuckin' compilation CD of many bands rather than just one - compliment for sure! The fragrance here is soulful, pleading, tattooed with belief and of a band willing to create sounds from all tangents located in this assorted arena. A new effort, a new success. 'At The Match' is an open wound of a number with all untrained gobs contributing to a stinking straight ahead cacophony the crummiest listeners will relish. The sweat poured in is obvious, the thuggish content interesting, the yelled out finale full of hate you just can’t resist. A combined footy chant and punked spillage that operates with the useful decay eroding away at anything resembling a polished finish - natural man, natural!
Onwards and 'The Marching' slowly builds with a repeater rhythm that is surged upward once the main section of the song is upon us. Stopping and starting, running wild and hanging around too long before a breakdown ensues. It was expected and this fizzle out and what comes next are the two main blemishes on a promising CD.
I don't like 'Oi Tony' I must confess as at this stage I expect more and it does go on a trifle too long. Nothing striking emanates from what just is a basic shoddy rant and I gotta move on rather than criticise unnecessarily. 'Our Law' is, in many respects, similar to its predecessor but has more subtle touches mixing up the messy and the articulate as well as altering shades. The seems a little more thoughtful which the previous track lacks and following on from a cold cacophony this one stands out a whole lot brighter. Still raw and unwashed but approachable. 'Switchblade Blues' rolls along on a steady rhythm and keeps the verses in some sort of order before temporarily losing the plot during the chorus outbursts. Scrubbed down and given a good sprucing up this could be a whole lot better than it is and thus see the band prodding faraway fields that grow crops of almost professionalism. The band opt to keep things crummy and sown in a disorderly fashion - is it an error or consistent to the cause - now its your call. 'Hot Food (For The Rich)' is temperamental stuff with 'Woah hoa's' adding a slight off kilter edge and soothing down the main vocal thrust. After the initial looming subdued strides the song breaks sweat and runs along to the final splutter - mmmm - not a bad un' chief!
'Clown Me' reaches out and grasps for epic status with its longevity and varied direction. I hate songs of this length but can appreciate bands chancing their arm. This one encapsulates everything we have heard thus far and if you are all 'horned up' by the acoustica and have more patience than me then I have no doubt you will love this one. Me, well I listen to more music than is most probably good for me and so find myself fading at the 4 to 5 minute barrier whereupon will be discovered a nice instrumental that gets a bit self indulgent but what the hell - the band deserve it at this point.
So I am done and despite a few turn-offs this CD has a lot going for it. How it will stand out and get the band gigs is dependant on how hard the band push their own cause. I'd be more than happy to see them pour out this stuff 'live' and hopefully can catch them soon and chew the cud. The more anarchic side of the spectrum should check this out - many aspects, many trespassed areas - just how it should be. Game over!
ANGER WITHOUT REASON - PROMISES AND LIES
And lo and behold yet another offering of hardcore rage from a band that have tried and tested the endurance of ye old Fungalised scribbler. In parts they win me over, in others they have left me behind but...they go on, prepared to take others advice and yet still do things their way (the only way it should be) and I feel as a result improvements are bound to be made. Only 5 tracks this time and with the hardcore side of things this is much more to my liking. As I write this opening paragraph I am indulging in the first spin of the CD which immediately shows advancement, bear with me whilst I have a few more rotations.
And several spins later...
Esquizofreniacal feelings may come and go with the more encrusted metal heads but with me...
The opening number holds firm and keeps a reality check and good rhythm thus gaining appeal with this externally generic key tapper. 'The Rising Of The Dark' comes forth from an evil distance with the initial pace deliberately thoughtful. We kick in and bob along on the opening salvo with only the briefest of guitar slices following before into the next outburst we are dragged. A slam down, a fear of what will follow and one only hopes the band don't get too self-indulgent and shit on the makings of promise. On we are propelled with fervour growing - run ya fuckers, run! Bassism folds the third vocal outpouring and the guitar solo, although seemingly out of orthodox place, is awkwardly placed with self appointed precision and so gets my vote. Not bad chaps and into the grinding machinery of 'Psalm 316. Promises And Lies'. Functioning with unstoppable force the wait for the first utterances adds to the tension but what follows is just stated and without fury (which I feel it should be). The atmosphere sought proves the band are thinking but here need a good backdrop of wailing horrors and tortured souls that would enhance the listening experience a hundred fold. Perhaps this is best described as not an attempt at a song but an attempt at a sensation. I like the thinking but reckon the end result is missed. Not bad though if the volume is rammed up the shitter to the hilt.
'We Are Not Your Slaves' pounds, pauses, pounds and then increases the fervour before interchanging solo/unified vocalisation that works big time. More punish and ponder and we repeat the great voice work. A rumbled build up into an area of riffage and then we are taken into a long, drawn out episode of overly extended mirroring with the same and same again drilled a little too deeply into our awaiting oral orifices. First half is effective and solid, the second half I feel is somewhat unnecessary but don't forget my punk patience runs dry at the 3 minute mark with most tunes so a determining factor is surely found therein. 'The Black Inside' treads carefully for a transient moment before machine-gunning outward and spraying a new sensation at us. A regular mow down next and then an increase in tempo with rocked up guitars exhibiting themselves in usual style. What makes this one work is...you guessed it - the 2 minute running time - keeps the point focussed tha' knows.
'Identity' unfolds with a waspish warpoid frenzy and then after a bold command of 'Go' rattles its own rib cage in fine style. A hold up, the sludge is dolloped on, we await the next bone-breaker and enjoy the malevolence in the meantime. A tribal roll follows in terrifying style and the band advance to the last collision - kaboom! An extra track is snuck in that shows what the band can do when bigger circumstances opening up to them. You tackle this one I've done my bit.
Best AWR outpouring to date - I think so. What makes it so - greater clarity, less long winded, more simplistic structure, produced with an exact idea of where they want to go - oh and some fair song writing (which is usually the case lyrically). In the 'live' pit these guys operate at a good level, get this CD and learn the tunes then go see em' and sing-a-long - could make for a nice night out!
FLAT BACK FOUR - PROTECT YOURSELF
I have done a bit of work with Flat Back Four over the years and watched them develop from a more orthodox punk band into a new school overdosed unit that leave me split right down the middle as regards their output. This latest offering was given to me for review via the distributing hand of Horn and Hoof maestro Scott Bradley and not from the band direct - perhaps they understand how I feel about some of the new claptrap out there and recognise I am a bare boned punker at heart who will listen to quite a range of noise but will not tolerate too much unnecessary elaboration. Then again...! This one was spun without expectation of any kind and the honesty poured forth is how I operate and in no means meant to cripple a band or show how I know so much the better (no, no, no way).
We open with 'Better Days (Part II)', a morose song with an irritating lack of cohesion that drifts way too much into that nerdish whirlpool of new school nonsense. FB4 were always destined to slip this way and despite my reluctance to appreciate (mainly due to not fuckin' liking it) this song is played well, contains the expected disordered yet routine nuances one would deem necessary of the genre, and has a decent production value many will find appealing. Just not for me at all and with the drums tapping at my patience and the general essence not brightening the set dreariness I move on into what is something of a similar ilk but has more potential and more challenges to inspect.
'Reach For The Sky' won't be on the top of my play list anytime soon as it is just another song that doesn't sit well in my chosen boom bang brothel of discordance. The opening guitars are brief and are soon taken over by that darn perpetual rhythm too often found in this genre. When space is given and the vocals are almost abandoned the gob at the fore thrives more and even when we move up into more urgent segments I find myself being slightly won over (not too much mind). Again we drift into nearby waters that a from the same aforementioned source and are not clearly separated as individual rivulets of noise thus making me think the end result lacks contrast. The instrumental blow-out is better than this and this small oasis lifts the tune no end but…my verdict is still lowly.
At this point it does perplex me that the last time I saw Flat Back Four play was one of their best outings for a long while and I am wondering why this CD is not impressing as much - funny old shit this music.
'The Return Of The Native' fails to capture any delicacy of the Hardy pushed pen but is a straight drive that is nicely accompanied by swift and smoothed out string work. Perhaps the closest thing to basic punk on the CD and all the more healthier for it. I am sure my textual assessment so far will be disagreed with and many will say that I am too far soaked in the raw side of noise and fail to embrace a variety of styles like I should. Not so - look at the reviews done - question me about the eclectic range of rhythm I partake of throughout any given week - and then eat thy shit. The opinions here are thought-out, personal and hopefully naturally sincere - I do not apologise if you deem it to be anything more, or less. So yes the 3rd track gets a thumbs up and my worry that this likeable crew had lost their melody making marbles is, it seems, unfounded.
Backing up my thoughts that the CD is on the upswing (yes in my opinion) we have a piss about known as 'Put The Kettle On Baldrick'. This one has more of the typical FBF sound and although a wrap-around repeat number it is simple, non-too serious and appeals to a regular black-balled offender who is happy outside of that crummy circle. We expire with perhaps the best of the lot and a song with the utmost passion called 'Hearts And Minds'. I like the intent of the wordage, the texture of the whole flow and the general good will, doggedness and style of frontman Steve's vocals. When given an essential titbit of time to deliver this oral minstrel attains greater altitudes of success and I do wonder if sometimes he is rushing himself along without any real necessity to do so (think on me old mucker). A switch off at just over halfway is needed to recharge the batteries and we travel to the final full stopped strum with ease - that's more like it.
So a CD that has me divided. A couple of episodes that I deem poor, a moment that is just alright and then two songs to finish that change my downward spiralling opinion (one of which is, as said, a bit of fun). Hey that's how it goes sometimes and one thing I will never do is hold favour for friends. I'll try and make sure what everyone gets from me is genuine neutrality, a fair comment or two and no unctuously underhand textual twattolgy that is done to groom and obsequiously kiss rectum. It gets me a rough old deal at times in this sneaky sphere of connivance but that's how the cookie crumbles. I am me and still happy to be a Flat Back Four fan - in fact I may just check em' out again at a gig in the not too distant future - tomorrow I think (at the time of writing that is)! Fungal expects to be entertained!
MERCILESS TERROR - PERPETUAL DEVASTATION
Nasty thrashing noise spitting forth from the bowels of Nottingham via a crew who have only been together since 2009. What we have here is a dirty devilish fuckfest that mixes late 80’s/ 90's Thrash and Retro Death Metal and comes out as nothing less than rock and roll bedlam. This isn't music for the passer by, this isn't a rhythmic relaxation session with all emphasis on getting that toe tapping and those hips gyrating. This is satanic sonica designed to make your sphincter rupture, your brain to drip from your nostrils and your inner abdominal organs to turn to bloodied sludge. No excuse, no let-up - a fuckin' mind melt of 100% discordance. Fungal has had his ears battered over the years - oh dear - here we go again.
'Shattered Existence' punishes hard from the first unhallowed scream and you can forget the initial gentle build up - this is one long aural whipping and no mistake. After the aforementioned screech and nail gun madness we are given a dousing of scorching vocals and unrepentant, unrelenting mayhem with the mincing, driving undercurrent of viciousness driving the whole song along. Dealing, primarily, with destruction of self and all around the content is as grim as the sound and my advice to all is partake when the stomach is empty. Hard work but played well and full of raping rhythm. 'Vortex Of Death' thumps, grinds, thumps etc. A grunt and then the tumult into a mania that raves about the final curtain and breaking beyond. Strings are slashed with gory gratuity and big riffs are dropped in with adhesive intent thus bringing the whole disjointed concoction together. Flash Harry solos are thrown in, further bellows and alternated speed rushes and ominous ponderings and what we have is a chaotic mix of pure metallic rage. Have it!
'Perpetual Devastation' repeatedly slams the noggin of disbelief into the shit bowl of sound thus creating a bloodied dripping mass ready for you to flush away at your leisure (if you so wish). You have no time to release yourself from the sonic grip that puts you through such unrelenting torture so, if you are borne with a leaning to all things bleak, all things concerned with oblivion, all you can do is unzip, get hard and wank along to the pain. The song is executed (just like your thinking process) with exemplary efficiency and although I find this difficult going I can see the artistry of the band. Best song thus far! 'Antagonistic Slaughter' won't let you off the hook and continues the heavy attack with big powerful thrusts taking immediate effect. We chug onward and rise to more heated hollering before the mix of casual threat and blatant violence throws us around. A bit too much of the same at this stage for me and I would have preferred the band to come up with something completely off the radar and thus make for a juxtaposition of sounds straight out of the pages of a fantasy wandering. Hey ho - I am out of my usual sphere here and maybe ask a little too much - I know how these connoisseurs of doom-laden dins like to keep to a one way track to oblivion - it ain't healthy you know, tut, tut!
No sooner have I requested a change in the sonic scenario than 'The Dead Crimson Skies' breaks the whole rabid racket with a well-played instrumental offering that adds atmosphere, alternative and further interest to the CD. The band had a chance of doing something operatic here and making for a real cut of obscurity but I won't fault this - the inclusion was needed and I applaud the effort. We close with a slam-dunk called 'Severance', a song that sidles inward, skips suddenly with frenzy and then goes into a scuffle only too expected. The band nail notes like nobodies business and eventually adopt a regular rockin' riff that appeals. In parts great, in others leaving me cold but that is mainly down to me being a punk rock peddler and not a metalhead. A fair closure though with consistency still upheld.
So a trial by terror and having come out aurally raped I suppose I best give a verdict. For the genre this is as good as it gets and the band stick to their style without remorse and really tick all those crazed criteria boxes. From one side of the fence I know many who will remain outside the death metal zone and for those in it - well like pigs in shit they will be happy to wallow (and why shouldn't they be)! Me - well I'll dip in now and again and be impressed by some good musicianship and good acoustic altitudes but I will mainly stick with my highly liked and much spiked punkage. Good luck to Merciless Terror though and maybe at some point I can throw them on a gig and mix up the mayhem and applaud their talent - be my pleasure I am sure! Now where's them earplugs?
THEE EXCITERS - PERPETUAL HAPPENING
Theft from a press release is always gratifying and saves me a whole load of time and so here is a little taster of what has been said thus far:- 'Forget whoever is flavour of the month right now. Just listen to this and you know that they really fucking mean it. This is a truly thrilling 21st-century take on the most primitive and visceral sixties garage-psych but way too raw and punked-out for it to be considered retro or a mere period piece. It’s time once again to get excited'. Wow - pretty colourful and bold wordage and if any outfit was set up for a fall at the hands of a Fungal review then this is it. Mind you I do like a bit of the aforementioned puke so this one may win my favour. Read on, if not, there may be a kicking had (in the best possible taste of course).
A techno shimmer, a strummed rise and a bass driven melody is picked up with 'Dinosaur Traffic' making a solid initial impression via a lucid soundscape that has an odour but nothing offensive. The song is well orchestrated, drips with 60's caverns and grainy rhythmic reels that show people absorbed in their chosen art. Guitars are kept tightened, drums stable and gobbology sneered but not snotty. Easy listening and bang on the generic mark. 'Perpetual Happening' schizoids around in a fishbowl of swirling melody with all cacophonic ingredients mushed up and squelched on down via a suffocating delivery that leaves no room to breathe. Powered and flowered with a drugged overlay that makes this one the acid trip I find myself intrigued with, but when adopting a more sobered stance I am slightly out of the circle - bastard. It's different, it sucks hard - can you be pleased - an awkward one this. 'Flower Punk Girl' smacks you one in the mug straight away and swirls, twirls and overspills with a soiled sonic brew of abandoned involvement. All players seem ready to lose the plot but remain uniformed thus making for an exciting session of fully saturated, open wound melody making. The crash and splash approach ain't no easy thing to master and to have the vocals so wonderfully mixed within the mush is a choice moment to embrace. A crackerjack!
' Paint Me' is an odd plod, it seems, to this awkward sod. With musical keyed in feet carefully placed in front of one another the approach is too careful and only via a sub-chorus are we given a little life in the step. The surge of cacophony is a good inclusion but we are all too soon back to ‘creep and see’ mode which leaves me a trifle sobered and without passion. Hey these things happen and if I were to like all things sent this way then the dungeons of fraudulence would await - fuck that! 'I Can Hear Most Everything' has a good sense of night -time escapism and comes on gentler tones that are still slightly bruised by the intent the band pour, so greedily, inwards. Fluffier, with still the rhythmic room packed to the rafters and with an inaudibility that hints that the sensation overrides the suggestion. A full bodied ditty to partake of and one to not get too flustered by - go with the flourishing flow. 'Hang Loose' is off the shoulder and riddled with malignant madness that creates a cacophony borne out a psychedelic womb where the nutrients were heavily doused with acid and other multi-coloured tabs of indulgence. The vibe within is without restraint and so relaxed that even the most rigid will seek and find rhythm. Again the entire bathtub of sonica is filled with free flowing acoustic water and within we can join in the swirl and be sucked forth into a plughole of fascination. Straight out of a 60's rave into the modern day with flowery shirts flapping and sodden.
The next trio of songs were taken in one assessing swoop and go like thus. 'Devil's Make Up' tiptoes with intent and has a malicious edge that makes ones skin crawl. The push forward is very much of an ordinary affair and I find this the least favoured of all. 'Mirrors Never Lie' lurks beneath the surface of a sonic swamp before a reveal is made and a groaning monsterfied sexualisation comes at us with minimum impact. Tempo builds, screeches derange and the laid back feel the band gave, and hinted at, comes. Still hollowed out, still tentatively dabbling on the precipice of a darker world - interesting. 'Killing You' is the best of the three with an immediate jerky staccato attitude that gets beneath the acoustic epidermal layer and pulsates away with the intention to make every fibre of your being jig and jostle in unity. The relentless approach, sudden outburst and taut guitars all make this essential melodic muck of the most applaudable order.
'Broken Rule' has a sweet twang I relish and a certain crankiness I can relate to. There is an hidden insanity brought about it seems by a threat that if you don't conform to the norm you are fucked. The swinging style works and with the mucky ducky sound you can't help sing praises especially if your stance is DIY all the way. Mid-paced and kinda groovy man! 'Stuck In A Triangle' exits in a loose attitude of throwback retro indie where orchestrated colours swapped places, interlocked, copulated and fell apart. An idling plea that borders on losing all belief this psychotic closure gratifies with its general hopelessness and tortured leaning. The strings are grindingly insistent and if one concentrates too much the nerves are jangled to oblivion. The final collapse is expected and how the band have lasted this long before becoming mentally paralysed is beyond me.
Thee Exciters enter the ramshackle playground and go at each and every ride they construct without care for acoustic health and safety. Of course they get injured and duly reprimanded but isn't that part of the intrigue, isn't that how it should be? We slip and slide and swing and ride and with scrapes and scratches we all join together and come up with a verdict of everything being 'worth it'. Strange to say the least but that is how it is and anyone wanting to dabble on the dangerous side of the fence should join in - you may come away disappointed, you may come away gratified but you will recognise dabblers at play - and as I say - 'nowt wrong wi' that'.
THEE GRAVE MEN - THEE GRAVE MEN
More Dirty Water to drink, this time with a brace of horror soaked deviants tempting you with a rot and roll rhythm. A press releases tells you this about the devilish duo:- 'Lee has his musical roots in the UK garage-rock scene, having played with the likes of crazy garage killers Thee Exciters (amongst others) and is also currently a member of top Swedish rhythm ’n’ blues outfit, The Branded. Daz, meanwhile, came from the trash punk rock ’n’ roll side of things having been playing since the ’80s with psycho screamers Skitzo'. I tell you this:- listen up and pay heed - this is terror toneage that may well appeal. Let's lift the lid on a graveyard of cacophonous coffins, and whenever needed, use the spade of sonic appreciation or the pick axe of acoustic critique.
'Hey There Pretty Baby' trundles along with a devil-kissed bass and a skeletal rattle that is overlain with groovy ghoulie vocalisation straight out of some coffin-creeping dive where zombified psychobilly maniacs doth dance the night (and day) away! It is a little too slow for me at the start of a CD that promises much and more pep in the general drive was crucial indeed. I can see the audience who will relish this but alas I am not part of it. 'Come On' pierces the listening vein a little deeper and is much more like it. A dirty grind that leaves space via the re-stated lines that build up in somewhat restrained havoc to the sludge of a chorus that is barely recognisable as such. The gist is far more unhealthy and hopefully this is where Thee Grave Men will dwell for the most part of this CD.
'Diggin' Graves' rumbles in with a deep tympanic jarring before the expected grisly delivery follows. More of the same and a theme not let loose throughout the CD so my advice if you are found not liking this at such an early stage then press the ejector button now. More rock and rolling hauntings that persuades with the thematic aspect and unrelenting, unwavering style that will please other crypt-dwelling dudes and dudettes. Deep and resonant and not a bad shuffle at all. 'Get Off My Back' is still played from the darker recesses of rhythm but just hints at slightly more focus and gets along on a good vibromatic melody with the singer relaxing a little more and become almost brattish - which indeed ups the ante. No new ground is experimented with but does it need to be - you tell me!
'Friday At The Hideout' has me searching for textual matter and follows the usual thread with grim belief. The boomed opening is overtaken by nasty guitar strokes and then escorted by the ever death-like vocals. More punctuated, with a style that has each note and chord positioned with exactness and as a result finding greater favour than any of the gloomy predecessors. The horrific theme is maintained and 'Let There Be Drums' chases, mimics, mystifies and brings yet more shadowy suggestion. What the fuck is the tune that this effort is blatantly copying - aaagghh the frustration. Whatever it is called the job is a good un' and that extra sprightly sonic step that is included in the instrumentalised journey is well founded. Great vibe with a good tympanic explosion towards the end and many memories invoked. Now I remember - the original was of the same name and delivered by none other than Sandy Nelson - yeah! 'My Girlfriend Is A Werewolf' sees the said lady howling at the moon before a tribal beat beckons the tune forward. A shuffled up tune that has a hesitant flow with yet more trembling terror injected. The chorus and verse slip into one another with apparent ease and the basic vibe is kept as such with the band refusing to be tempted into fresher experimental ground where surprise and success may occur. Not bad but I do get the feeling I am overdosing on a given theme here! Is it just me or do the crew need to take a risk or turn off the well worn track? A Sci-fi tremor of eerie Theremin ambience and the spirit is lifted as the encouraging bluesy vibe of 'My Witch' falls over us. Rather than the usual cloying mass of notes the uplifting energy supplied by a more traditional R 'n' R route benefits all and toe-tapping goodness this way comes. The dance floor is full yet again and much twisting on down is had. Nice little number this and hitting several sonic hotspots as well as appealing to the outer space nerds amongst us!
Time for 4 quick ones I reckon - whoosh - 'Graveman' spirals down, feels almost Amazonian in intent and rumbles along on a rickety track that has a primitive charm whereas 'Green Fuz' is more deliberate, more unsettling and has a slow and steady trickle that will suppress your resistance. 'Six Feet Down' ploughs again in the darkened recesses with a somewhat aimless approach that I feel has now been overly done on this CD and so leaves me somewhat flat. 'Shake It' lets down the hair, whips us up with jangling guitars before the sticks strike out and then remain restrained whilst the hypnotic repeater/mind beater 'Shake Baby' utterances hit our unpretentious listening souls. As the original with extra chills - not a bad way to go. The 'Outro' spooks, then the sonic spillage goes crazy and perhaps is the most disturbing moment on the entire CD.
Overall not as appealing to yours truly as other Dirty Water releases and a bit too much of a chosen style to keep me intrigued and entertained but I can see the target audience and those in the picture will undoubtedly have a good time listening to this. My final verdict could be deemed harsh and so I'll leave you to guess but if you like a good cheap thrill, a dirty session and something from the cemetery then go ahead and indulge.