It’s not often that I get to write about punk. In fact, it’s not often that I get excited about punk anymore, at least in terms of what’s currently out and noticeable. This may be a function of a few things: after all, I write for a heavy metal website and since I’m so focused on that area, maybe I’m just out of touch. Still, I remember back in 2010, there seemed to be a group of punk-ish hardcore bands that made something of a wave at the time: Ceremony, Trash Talk, Bracewar, etc. Aside from this, it seems that punk in its purist hardcore-punk/street punk/oi! variants has long since passed on to “a place in history,” rather than a currently active movement.
But perhaps I’m wrong. There are bands like Sectarian Violence, Coke Bust and many others who blend the old 80’-86’ styles with darker influences, and have helped keep the spirit alive. I’m sure there are many others readers should know about, and if you’d like to help, by all means hit the comment section. But one of the best new voices in modern hardcore punk is the UK band, Violent Reaction. And I’m not alone in thinking this: in my interview with SSS, they said basically the same thing.
It’s difficult to say in words how glad I am that this band exists. The most obvious influence here would have to be Negative Approach. To be fair, the lead singer sounds A LOT like John Brannon, but there’s a lot of “Whatever I Do” or “Ready to Fight” in the music here. Still, they’ve managed to do this in a way that feels like a continuation of the legacy, instead of a lazy retread. In one sense, they’re completely transparent in the bands they worship: Poison Idea, Minor Threat, The Exploited perhaps a bit of Gorilla Biscuits and Youth of Today in there as well (you know that mid-paced breakdown at the end of “Thinking Straight?” Yea, like that).
Consider the fast, simple and fun track “Leave me out.” The power-chord riffing is perfect, the vocal patterns have just the right effect and the chorus has the same irreverence all great punk bands are famous for: “Leave me alone…I don’t wanna!” You have to honor a band who, in 2015 no less, has the guts to name their song “Stand and Fight” and “Disorder.” This is a straight-ahead, no nonsense hardcore punk album.
The album's sound and balancing is both raw, but still crisp and clear. And even as a guitarist at heart, I couldn’t help but notice: that snare drum sound is SO DAMN GOOD.
And there must be something in the zeitgeist, but like the Unrest album I recently reviewed, this album features some harsh words for those crust-punk types who go into poverty on purpose. First of all, I think the band wins song title of the year for “Crust Fund.” But more importantly, those lyrics really bite: “Crust fund, you’ll never have to need, you’ll never struggle, you’ll never bleed.” It’s satisfying, almost refreshing to hear this working-class sentiment proclaimed so strongly: “Spit in the face of the average kid, when they never got the chances you did.” If anyone ever needed a postscript to Keep the Aspidistra Flying, it’d be hard to beat that.
Anyway, for those of us who often lament that there’s no energy left in punk, that its all been done before (over and over again), Violent Reaction offers us all some hope. They’ve been called part of the “New Wave of British Hardcore.” I suggest we all pay close attention.
Favorite Songs: “Leave Me Out,” “No Pride,” “War,” “Crust Fund”