Crophead Record Roundup #5

Reconquesta & Codi de Silenci: La força de la raó Split EP (Disco Nightmare)

Codi de Silenci and Reconquesta hail from the Lleida and Barcelona regions of Catalonia respectively. Both are skinhead bands of a Catalan separatist persuasion, and just as Catalan separatism has reached boiling point, these bands are on top of their game with their new split-EP, La força de la raó. The title translates as “the force of reason” (two communist Catalan Oi bands, Camarada Kalashnikov and the excellent Pilseners, have used the same title for earlier releases). As Codi de Silenci’s bassist Lluis explains, it’s a popular phrase that stands for “resistance against the Spanish state, which has the reason of force”.

Reconquesta released an awesome debut album called Recupera el que et pertany (“take back what belongs to you”) in 2015. You don’t expect greatness from Oi albums these days. But every now and again, something so powerful comes your way it ends up on heavy rotation.

“Heavy rotation?” you ask, while trying to remember the last time you even sat through an entire album. Well, I played Recupera countless times, sometimes on repeat.

a2093070836_10A brief personal excursion: last year I had the misfortune of being flatmates with one of the most parasitical and all-round despicable creatures I’ve met in my life. Our non-stop altercations were draining me, especially after long work days. Blasting the Reconquesta album provided strength in countless moments when I felt I was either going to explode or implode. For this I’m indebted to the band.

Whereas Recupera contained rudimentary stop-start solos (the one in their theme tune, ‘Reconquesta’, sounded much like the breakdown in Condemned 84’s ‘Teenage Slag’), there is now Test Tubesque fluency in the lead guitar department.

‘Segueix latent’ kicks off this EP thus:

Looking for a role model, history has led me to you
Your great achievement, an example to pursue
Our current struggle is the same as yours:
To defend the fatherland and its will

The great role model remains unnamed, but in the chorus we learn that he is “still alive”, metaphorically speaking.

Webp.net-resizeimage (2)Who is he? Hannibal Varca? Napoleon Bonaparte? Joseph Stalin? We’re never told, although chances are he’s someone closer to home.

Vocalist Guillem delivers the song with passion – although I’m pretty sure the growlier voice in the second verse is Codi de Silenci’s Dani – and the band are boiling. Fuelled by the fire of an ongoing struggle, it turns out, you deliver more compelling results than when your boots are all you’ve got to sing about.

The forcefully aggressive second Reconquesta track hammers home the theme of the release:

You don’t seem to understand
This is more than a sentiment
You make your point waving laws
That deny what is evident:
We are a nation

Reconquesta are mainly influenced by Pilseners, but also mid-80s second wave Oi bands such as Condemned 84 and Böhse Onkelz. Like the latter two, they’ve gradually integrated heavy rock elements into their sound – the opposite development to what newer bands like Crown Court and Grade 2 are doing on our shores.

 

20171022_180801
Lleida Esportiu at home

The same is true for Codi de Silenci, who sounded like an early ‘samurai skinhead’ band singing in Catalan not too long ago, but have now thrown some heavier pentatonic riffage into the mix. Some – especially Tim Wells – would argue this is greaser rather than skinhead music, and in a sense they’d be justified. That doesn’t diminish the might of Codi de Silenci’s new material, though – and isn’t the broad range of sounds now associated with skinhead culture part of its beauty?

Vocalist Dani is the founder of Lleida’s local football firm Rudes, who have built a fearsome reputation in their home country. 20171022_181019I had the pleasure to attend a Lleida Esportiu match with them last year, and I can confirm they excel at creating atmosphere.

Catalan patriotism encompasses a broad range of political positions from left to right, and the same seems to be true for Catalan skinheads. Although there is no love lost between Catalan skins and the stiff-arm brigade, it would appear from interviews that Reconquesta lean somewhat to the right. Codi de Silenci bassist Lluis hints with reference to his former bandmates in Reconquesta that “there are many things in which I personally do not agree with them”, and I suspect I’d feel similarly.

On these recordings, though, both bands stand united behind the Estelada, and there’s no denying they fire from all cylinders. 20171022_183741This is the EP of the year so far – in my view, the Catalan and Valencian Oi music scenes are the most vital and authentic right now, pissing all over various content-free rehashes of bygone days.
Matt Crombieboy

Youth Avoiders: Relentless LP (Destructure)

I’ve been aware of this Parisian band for some time as one of their members is also in Rixe. Glorious melodic hardcore/punk reminding me of Channel 3 and early Bad Religion, with hints of UK acts like Leatherface. In the guitar sound, I could also detect hints of old UK anarchos Political Asylum, albeit more polished than anything they offered. It ain’t skinhead moonstomping, but it’s bloody good punk rock. Best tracks for me ‘Watch me’, ‘Street violence’ and ‘Between Disparate Lines’.
Abdul Bleach Boy

Royal Hounds: Two Dogs promo (Twin Cannons)

Two tracks of well above average glammy bootboy bovver rock and Oi here. Some crackin’ guitar work and a general feelgood bouncy vibe on opening stomper ‘I Live For This’, followed up by another corker, ‘Baby I hope they remember me’, again featuring some slick guitar. Very danceable number had me pogoing round the living room. Musically not a million miles away from Vanity, but without the detached Brooklyn hipster twattishness. Lyrically nothing heavy, just good fun. 9/10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Hard Times: La violence/Les apparences digital single

Crushing Hardcore influenced Oi here from the all-time French legends and one of my favourite bands ever. This is beyond anything they’ve ever done in its awesomeness. Opener ‘La violence’ is sheer power. A forceful blast of pure anger with a perfect terrace chorus. ‘Les apparences’ is even better. Again total rage, this time combined with some unbelievable guitar work, which has more than a whiff of dark cold wave about it. A true modern Oi classic. Quite frankly, this pisses over just about any other Oi band going. As good as anything from the 80s, if not better. This is urgent, angry and indispensable.10/10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Béton Armé: s/t tape & digital EP (LSC)

Great powerful skinhead Oi from LSC records, who’ve given us superb releases such as Force Majeure and Ibrahim et Les Dompteurs des Tigres in the recent past. This is one of their best. Don’t know much about the band, but the label and French lyrics suggest a Quebec origin. This is dark, bleak and angry Oi noir. Reminds me of heavier mid 80s-90s French acts like Skinkorps, L’Infanterie Sauvage and Anti Patik: angry vocals over brickwall guitar, stomping midtempo beats and pounding bass. The musical equivalent of a spider web tattoo on your elbow and a cross between your eyes. Excellent stuff. 8.5/10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Brix’n Mortar: Demo

Great new band hailing from Salem in Massachusetts. They play a mix of melodic hardcore and Oi with some 80s metal influence in the guitar department. Solely in a musical sense, this reminds me of some late 80s American right-wing groups such as Immoral Discipline or Forced Reality, although Brix’n Mortar are much more musically competent and have a more powerful feel. In fact, the demo evokes that whole late 80s US scene without really sounding like any particular group. Two tracks: a mid-paced opener ‘Pangs of Spite’ (my fave), followed up by the punchier ‘Side by Side’. Top notch. 9/10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Coup Gorge: Troubles 12’EP & digital album (Offside)

Raging French Hardcore punk with storming roar-along choruses. I’ve followed these for some time, and they improve with each new effort. Tracks usually less than one-and-a-half minutes short, with powerful guitar work and gruff as fuck vocals. Not much in the way of tunes, but what they lose in melody they compensate for in aggression. The press release mentions Negative Approach, which is one point of reference. I’d add fellow Frenchies Tagada Jones and Thrashington DC. There are even bits of an angrier Rixe in the mix. With such short tracks, it’s hard to pick favourites when the whole thing works best as one continuous blast – then again, ‘Stupid Trahison’, ‘Addiction’ and ‘J’Avance seul’ deserve a special mention [‘Mise a mort’ would be my pick – Editor]. 9/10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Project Youth: Middle East LP (Wargasm)

We don’t often get to review bands from Istanbul. I spent a happy holiday there in 2015 and found it a beautiful city with lots to offer: thousands of years worth of history, the Constantinople side of things being the most intriguing for me as a fan of the Roman Empire. Super-cheap Fred Perry polos from the Bazaar! Are they fake or do they just come straight from the factory? I snapped up five in different colours and still can’t find any fault with them. But ahem… let’s talk about the release.

As vocalist Can tells us, Project Youth are equally influenced by 77 punk and early British Oi. Given the higher-pitched vocals and fairly melodic guitar work, the 77 influence is more pronounced to my ears, although Partisans comparisons wouldn’t be too far off either. To me, they sound best when they stray from the ‘traditional 77 punk’ path and speed things up a bit for an early 80s Angry Samoans/Neurotic Arseholes vibe.

As for the lyrics, a more working-class perspective on things wouldn’t go amiss, and sometimes the sentiments are a bit vague in an “all power corrupts” kind of way. Still, there are songs against Islamism (‘Sharia Hurts’) and Western intervention (‘Middle East’), and for a punk band they seem to take genuine interest in what’s happening both regionally and globally, rather than peddling some kind of Crass lifestyle anarchism (bleurgh). So I won’t complain too much.
Matt Crombieboy

Sambas: No Pride, No Shame EP (Casual/Aggrobeat)

Rough ‘n’ ready French Oi that is très bon indeed and très heavy on the saxophone (after all, I think there’s something pertaining to sax use in the Code Napoléon). From the imagery and lyrics, I’m guessing these guys lean heavily to the left (it’s on Casual Records as well). Nothing earth-shattering or original, nor are the tunes world-beaters, to be honest. But it more than makes up with heart, integrity, enthusiasm and bodes well for the future. Hints of Crisis and Swingo Porkies in the sound, good stuff overall [they sound better when they sing in French – Editor] 7.5/10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Britva: La Serpe Ailée EP (Temps Mort)

Alert the gendarmerie, a French oi! band flaunting the sax laws! Still, when you’re as good as Britva we’ll give you a byball. This lot hail from Aquaitaine (I think) and deliver excellent rough as fuck Oi in a Herberts/Anti Patik vein. In fact, the vocal reminds me a lot of Ricbull in style and delivery [I’m actually reminded of Snix, but without those strangely affected vocals – Editor]. Great choruses and some slick guitar work too. Well worth a listen. 9/10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Force Majeure: S/t tape & digital album (LSC)

More from Monsieur St Pierre, which means more Templars style rough ‘n’ready Oi. Big hooks, great choruses, and some excellent guitar work. Nothing vastly original, just earnest, highly enjoyable Oi.Top tracks for me are “Banlieu Grise” and “Guerre Civil”. 9/10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Iena: Condanna a morte LP (self-released)

Killer Oi with a touch of hardcore. Reminds me a lot of Rixe or Condor in song and in the way the choruses are blasted out like machine gun fire. There are also strong gothic overtones and dark/cold wave influences in the mix, especially on the slower numbers. I love this style, it’s so much more authentic and downright nastier than the Rancid wannabes and Evil Conduct clones you hear so much of these days. [Aside from the Reconquesta/Codi de Silenci EP, this is my favourite release this time around. Check out ‘Miserabili’, which is ultra-aggressive a la early Nabat] 10/10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Razorback: Demo.
Yank/Aussie band featuring members of Battle Ruins, Deadstare and Hammer and the Nails. That should give you a good idea of what you’re getting: mid-paced Oi /Boston hardcore played with anger and aggression. Great tunes with some splendid dark melody underneath the power. Excellent, excellent stuff. 9.5/10
Abdul Bleach Boy

Maree Noire: Demo EP (Distro-y)

Outstanding D-Beat from members of Syndrome 81 and Youth Avoiders. To be honest, I’m not normally a huge lover of this style, but this some of the best raging hardcore I’ve heard in ages. Like Youth Avoiders and Syndrome 81, it’s got great melody and strong songwriting underneath all the power and anger. A release that should appeal to those of us who aren’t fans of the genre. The two opening tracks are pure awesomeness. 9/10
Abdul Bleach Boy

 

 

 

 

 

 

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