Blue and green record exploding into shards

Violent LP

Starting like a trip gone wrong when the local dealer’s doorbell got stuck on the on position (and some stoned idiot is jabbing at it with a fork), ‘Wrecked’ bursts through the demented aural haze with something just a bit more serious than your average munchy attack.

‘The world collapsing, as you’re aware. It’s become a cliché, does anyone care?’ states Mr Spall with the sort of lazy sneer Mr Lydon would craft a grin at. There’s not much else in the lyrical department going on, but then again, that’s really the point here. When you’ve got two lines like that, the message gets through. And it does.

Musically the guitars get free range in the chorus and tighten during the verse to pump out a deep stabbing rhythm. Sat behind is a drum and bass tempo which, combined with the guitars, whips things along nodding its head to the 90’s Industrial sound.

‘Revolting’ then arrives and shows itself to be a different beast entirely. Almost Ian Dury in its lyrical content and almost Ministry in its musical attack, it’s the sort of combination that is quite an assault on the ears. But in the right way. ‘Sketch’ then goes off on another tangent being a hard ambient groove, devoid of vocals, guitars and all things rock.

Third track in and it’s still keeping me guessing, and number four, ‘Nothing To Say’, decides to carry on the surprises by adding a touch of funk into the mix and relying on samples for vocals, while still maintaining a hard edge.

In fact, it’s the album’s aggressive side which is probably the only real constant here. There may be ambient ditties, social and morally conscious lyrics and a relaxed clubbing vibe in places, but there is always an angry edge, whether upfront in the vocals or lurking in the background or structure of the mix. And that, quite frankly, hooks onto the part of you that is still a pissed-off teenager and drags you through a musical voyage that you probably wouldn’t have gone on of your own accord.

On the way here are some great songs waiting to be discovered, one or two not-so-good ones (‘Boring’ being a case in point) and two near-genius efforts that outshine the rest.

‘Skank’ is definitely the pick of the bunch. Techno meets The Streets with some serious brass accompaniment and a hint of The Clash for a tune dedicated to that age-old dilemma of substance abuse. It starts slow and then skips all the middle gears, moving at a rocket’s pace into a mashing, crashing and, ultimately satisfying, crescendo of danceable noise. Brilliant, sweaty stuff.

‘Bad Day’ is nearly as good and is probably the most reminiscent of NIN. Melodic and deep distorted guitars combine at a slow, growling pace along the lines of ‘Hurt’. Granted, the lyrics are not even close to the introspective, self-destructive nature of Mr Reznor’s classic, but that wonderful sense of anticipation, desperation and doom is replicated here almost as a salute to the man himself. That said, it carries its own serious personal message which, while I can’t work out exactly from the words alone, the press release tells me is about road death.

As a whole, this is generally a good album, but there are some areas that could be improved. Anon work best with angry, edgy and melodic tunes. The instrumental dark trippy songs are certainly fine but there is probably too many of them here as you can’t help thinking that something shorter and punchier, incorporating Spall’s often brilliant lyrics, is more their style.

However, I couldn’t finish by not mentioning the July 7th bombing-inspired track ‘Bombs’, the Iraq war-influenced title track ‘Violent’ and the diatribe, set to a twisted musical backdrop, that is ‘Rant’. All three are quality tracks and the sort of songs that would have you dancing and screaming like something possessed at one of their gigs.

Subversive, but in the right sort of thought-provoking way, this album is definitely a grower rather than a shower (ahem, as my girlfriend keeps telling me during our more intimate moments).

Written by Habert on

Pete Habert was sub-editor for The Mag and co-ordinated submissions from the swarm of writers that contributed articles from their local music scenes.

Discover More Music