Snarling, sneering and spouting pure fury, October File surmise the very essence of all that is punk. Not the songs aren’t always faultless in their construction, but I really don’t think they care.
One part Dead Kennedys two parts Killing Joke, the boys from Blighty are seeking to claw back whatever truth and authenticity may be left in punk after all those baggy shorted whiny American teenagers have succeeded in hijacking it for their bubblegum pop purposes.
It is an ambition they waste no time in trying to achieve, kicking things off with “an instrumental piece of disharmony” (serious artists here, you understand!) which is thankfully swiftly eclipsed by the awesome brutal sneer of Dead Air Transmission. Discordant licks and percussion that is driving, yet incredibly groovy, set the stage for the defiance of the chorus of: “Take your shallow ego and burn!”
Enemy In A State sees a distorted bass riff underpinning Ben Hollyer’s distinctly coarse vocals, which try to bit just that little bit too clever with the oh so clever word play. With little time to reflect on this misdemeanour, a little track as long as the rest of the album so far opens with a sampled Televangelist stylee prayer before a twangy Strat and descending bass line summons the barking start of the best track on offer here, God Hates America.
With about as much subtlety as a sledgehammer to George Bush’s crown jewels, God Hates America is what Michael Moore would sound like if you put him through a distortion pedal. Very reminiscent of fellow Polit-Angst punkers Amen, the lyrics range from the amusing (“God hates America, coz the CIA’s so F**king A!”) to the downright absurd (“Welcome to the Fourth Reich!”). It may pierce through America’s foreign policy like a silver bullet, but unfortunately the quartet offer no suggestion as to how we pick up the pieces. Oh Well, back to the drawing board then?
But you can’t knock ‘em for trying I suppose, as Trench shows that intellect conveyed through such relentless rage is most refreshing. Incidentally, it’s the first song I’ve ever heard promoting the idea of resisting credit and the evils of debt. Sensible money management and Anarchy? Now there’s a concept! The stirring finale rings out like a battle cry to the financial world: “There is no interest charge on my soul!” – fair play!
Latter songs on the album explain where the Emo/Harcore label comes from, with the all too common wall of cymbals and stabbed chords proving that when they ain’t following Skin‘s advice and getting ‘F**king Political!’ the music seems to suffer. There are brief Hondo MacLean/Poison the Well moments in these latter tracks, which seem to jar somewhat with the earlier songs, but are just as raucous in their existence.
A resounding success for a debut album, which thankfully won’t catapult them into the limelight before they’ve had a chance to refine some of the weaker songs and found something a little more constructive to do than sticking middle fingers in the air. It’s all a rather predictable stance, but hey I guess someone’s gotta do it.