Crophead record roundup #7

Tchernobyl: Consumé par le feu EP
(Une vie pour rien Vinyles)

Another new band from the Paris Oi scene – this digital EP (published in April 2020) is their second release. Their self-titled 2019 demo sounded like Brutal Combat: sluggish, brutal and a bit retarded. It did, however, contain some surprising minor key harmonies. With ‘Vengeance’, Consumé par le feu opens along similar lines, but then takes a sudden turn to frosty post-punk guitar atmospherics while maintaining its basic growliness. Although they hail from Paris, you could therefore say that the band distils the ‘best of Brest’. Or you could slam them for ticking all the trendy boxes du jour. But the truth is that Tchernobyl are bloody good. Better, in fact, that some of their sources from the 80s could have dreamed of becoming.

Great new band: Tchernobyl

Speaking of Brutal Combat, allow me a detour. There’s been a certain vogue for them lately, and some people are at pains to locate a moment in time before they became truly fascist. Now, it’s possible the band was initially a standard-issue 80s skin combo and became more radicalised over time. But if a bunch of Frenchmen, in addition to fantasising about a ‘red peril’, title their debut album after a Frankish military leader mainly noted for defeating the Muslim hordes, then arguably there’s a certain tendency from early on. A year later, the group would record a song entitled ‘Indo-Europeens’, by which I presume they were referring to the ‘Aryan race’ rather than the similarly named language family.

I think you’re standing on firmer ground if you just say: great music, shit politics. After all, you don’t have to share an artist’s views to appreciate their ‘art’. Unless you’re a fascist yourself, on the other hand, I’m not sure there’s a need to wear, or indeed print, Brutal Combat t-shirts showing the band’s pseudo-runic original logo – even if some particularly edgy types, always pushing the envelope just this little bit further in their desire to project ‘authenticity’, seem to think otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, I see no great harm in it – I just think some people are making themselves look like tits.

But back to music. Brutal Combat indeed created their own original sound: a shlepping, leaden Oi variation that would soon be imitated and exaggerated by many. While the rudimentary song structures partly seemed to be due to the band’s limited skills, I can’t help thinking there was a degree of wilful stupidity at work too – i.e. an iron determination to avoid anything playful or unpredictable (apart from the odd sax!) so as not to unsettle the static posture conveyed by the sound. Fittingly, the band appear to be glued to the stage in video footage from the era: like the bulk of their music, they weather the storms motionless as rocks.

I like this relentless, dull-witted Oi style quite a bit, and it’s easy to see why some of today’s French groups consider it a key influence. Tchernobyl approach it with a knowing stance while adding welcome twists here and there. My apologies to the band for ending up writing more about Brutal Combat than about them. To make up for this, I’ll end by saying that Tchernobyl are superior to their influences.
Matt Crombieboy


Ultra Razzia/Dead Hero: split LP
(Primator Crew)

Excellent split from these two bands who take their cue from the No Future records school of punk. Ultra Razzia are a French-Canadian outfit who’ve been putting out quality releases in a Blitz, Criminal Damage and Syndrome 81 vein for a while. And this is up there with anything those luminaries produced. Great stuff. Dark, menacing and brooding. Hints of The Violators and The Blood in places even give it a gothic edge. Dead Hero are Colombian and, again, very No Future inspired. Sounding a lot like Red Alert in places with great anthemic choruses. Nice cover of the Blitz classic ‘Solar’ too – an unusual choice, to say the least.
Abdul Bleach Boy


The Unborn: Slasher (Street Punk Anthems)
(Skinhead Sounds!)

This Italian outfit is a horror Oi band of sorts, but instead of taking its cue from Attak’s deathless Zombies album – one of the greatest shitty punk records of all time – it combines the B-movie loving attitude of the Misfits with Nabat-like shouty vocal lines and heavy, hard-driving punk sometimes bordering on hardcore. The identities of the band members are shrouded in mystery, although the voice strongly resembles the singer of an important band from the 90s Italian skinhead scene… Either way, the band clearly loves the 80s, when MTV metal and VHS nasties such as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but also homegrown fare like Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso, were the staple diet of Italian teenagers.

Occasionally the heavily processed guitar plays lines that wouldn’t feel out of place on Motley Crue’s Shout at the Devil. While I’m not normally a fan of these kinds of deviations in punk rock, I can tolerate the citational way in which they’re being indulged here. Slasher is a relentless, hard-driving punk album and great fun. However, I have my preferences and want the band to minimise American themes and expand on Italy’s cultural legacy in the future. That is to say, more Fulci and Death SS, less Wes Craven and WASP – excuse my cultural nationalism.
Matt Crombieboy


Combat Force: Never Stray EP
(Youth Attack)

Loud, angry and raging mix of Oi and early hardcore from a young band with a couple of decent demos under their belts. They’ve described their sound as a mix of US hardcore and Hodges-era 4-Skins. Fair enough comparison in places, but to me this was very, very reminiscent of 90s Headache Records legends The Wretched Ones, maybe with hints of Reckless Aggression in the mix. Great rough-as-sandpaper vocals with a snotty edge. Highly recommended.
Abdul Bleach Boy


Vis Vires/Kaleko Urdangak: split EP
(Tough Ain’t Enough Records)

Vis Vires features members of the Templars, Hardknocks and Bovver Wonderland. Great metalish Oi/skinhead rock with some fantastic guitar work and anthemic punch the air choruses. Reminds me a little of a few of the mid 90s European RAC type bands musically.

Kaleko Urdangak hail from the Basque region and are a less metalish, less dark, and have more of a rock feel – they sometimes remind me of Red Alert or a heavier Red London. Didn’t quite press my buttons in the way Vis Vires did, but still pretty good stuff. [They’re closer to The Crack to my ears and really good. There’s some real songwriting going on here– Editor]
Abdul Bleach Boy


MESS: Intercity 12’’ EP
(Mendeku Diskak)

The good people from Mendeku Diskak label introduce this new Mexican Oi project (with members of Sparrow 68 and Himnos) as “a sort of crossbreed between Punk’s Not Dead and Second Empire Justice”. To be honest, I can’t hear the influence of the latter at all, other than perhaps in the band hitting the odd minor chord. I’d sooner describe the music as sitting somewhere between The Exploited ‘Horror Epics’ and The Oppressed ‘Oi! Oi! Music’ – and fittingly enough, the voice is equal parts Roddy Moreno and Wattie Buchanan. Only the anthemic ‘Street Boys’ resembles Blitz, and we’re talking Voice of a Generation not Second Empire Justice.

I might not be quite as enthusiastic about this EP than many other people, but I still think it’s very solid, promising stuff with the right street-level attitude (no ‘professional studio production’, etc). The 12’’ vinyl release is planned for late October, but you can already listen to the whole thing on Bandcamp.
Matt Crombieboy


Vanity: Anticlimax single
(Feel It Records)


You know about half of you are going to hate this. Vanity aren’t a band I know much about other than I’ve enjoyed a lot of their releases and I’ve noticed it seems to be fashionable to slag them off a lot as posers or scene outsiders [that’s because they’re twats – Editor]. They’ve progressively moved a million miles away from the brickwall Oi of their first demo to this, which is two tuneful slices of psychedelic and soulful power pop. Has hints of Sheer Mag in there, though this has a 60s feel as opposed to Sheer Mags 70s nostalgia. Not exactly skinhead moonstomping, but I loved it. [a fan on Bandcamp describes this as “a lip smacking melodious really hip & groovy track, honey for your ears” – Editor]
Abdul Bleach Boy


Zone Infinie: Degats EP
(General Strike/Destructure Records)

Camera Silens meets Leatherface from this St Etienne band. Great melancholic, brooding, guitar-driven punk rock. They’ve had a couple of good releases up to now, but this is the best I’ve heard from them. They come into their own as songwriters here. More memorable and catchy than previous releases. Loved this.
Abdul Bleach Boy


Criminal Outfit: demo

Members of Combat Force, Vis Vires and others are involved in this. Not a bad first effort, but doesn’t come near the quality of those other groups. Has more in common with Combat Force musically, though stripped of much of the hardcore influence and in a more typical US Oi style. Some Chiswick records style guitar in places too that gave it a Savage Beat sort of feel here and there.
Abdul Bleach Boy


Cran: s/t EP
(Une Vie Pour Rien Vinyles)

Female fronted French band from Paris. The Bandcamp blurb compares them to Criminal Damage, but I’d also mention Montreal band Action Sedition, plus hints of mid 80s UK melodic anarcho-punk. OK, so it’s not the most original thing going, but I’ve loved this type of sound for decades, and these lot do it better than most. Released by Un Vie Pour Rien, a label that can do no wrong in my book.
Abdul Bleach Boy


Récidive: Planté Là x Jeunes Espoirs single
(self-released)

Another new French band playing old school Oi. Two tracks of sing-along, punch the air Oi heavy on the dark melody the French bands do so well. Great first effort.
Abdul Bleach Boy


Pressure Pact: Scared of the Streets LP
(Wolves of Hades Records)

Raging Dutch hardcore with a big Oi influence. Reminds me a lot of contemporary UK bands like Gutter Knife, Arms Race or Violent Reaction. Negative Approach style hardcore crossed with mid-90s Chaos UK in places. One to smash the living room to when social distancing finally tips you over the edge.
Abdul Bleach Boy


Death Ridge Boys: (Don’t Let Them) Divide Us EP
(Black Water)


Usually I’m not a fan of the more rock ‘n’ roll side of US Oi but this is an exception. Bluesy guitars, glammy riffs and whisky-soaked vocals. Like a heavier Cock Sparrer (they even have a song called Working), though they come from Portland and not East London. Lots of fun, heads down, no-nonsense, mindless boogie [this EP is really fucking great – Editor].
Abdul Bleach Boy


Traitre: Vets in Nouveau Deuil single
(self-released)

Comeback effort from French band who were there at the beginning of the ‘new wave of Blitz worship’ punk that took hold in last decade. Less frantic and urgent than previous releases this still doesn’t go too far from the tried and tested formula. Hints of Feast or Famine, Dirt and even old UK anarcho band Terminus creep in now and again. Not groundbreaking but very enjoyable.
Abdul Bleach Boy


Hellrïegel: Demo 2020
(self-released)


Raw, catchy, bluesy and ballsy Headache Records style punk here. Two tracks that remind me of 90s US Oi legends The Wretched Ones or Limecell. If you’re not familiar with those groups, think Rose Tattoo or Motorhead at their most blues-enthused jamming in a redneck bar with Minor Threat and Negative Approach. Great growly vocals and noisy guitars. This is loud, dirty, greasy, and great fun. Highly recommended.
Abdul Bleach Boy


Quoi Encore: Soumnis MLP.
(self-released)


This band hail from St Etienne and play some excellent anthemic melodic punk tinged with cold wave. Not really skinhead, but if you enjoy your Camera Silens, Litovsk or Syndrome 81 you may well be into this. I particularly liked the faster numbers like ‘Ici comme ailleurs’, which features an awesome Bad Religion style chorus, and ‘Hassan’ which was vaguely reminiscent of Husker Du. That said, its great stuff start to finish. Once again, another French gem. Vive to that and an eclair for both of us, to quote Blackadder’s Mrs Miggins.
Abdul Bleach Boy

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