Various: Zombie Rock – A Worldwide Tribute to Nabat LP

This slab of wax came out in the middle of the lockdown. Things weren’t looking good for Vecchio Son, the rehearsal space and music venue in Bologna run by none less than Steno, the Italian granddaddy of Oi who’s been singing in Nabat since 1979. It seemed that the rent could no longer be paid and Steno & Co. would be forced out. But Steno isn’t one to die on his knees, so he organised all kinds of fundraising campaigns to keep this important venue open. I’m not actually sure right now if part of the proceeds of this compilation were going to said cause, but I seem to remember so.

In any case, it’s only appropriate that this is an international tribute. Nabat are not just a local band, after all – their incredibly powerful Oi and borderline-hardcore punk was internationally influential and continues to be so today: in the 80s, you were as likely to see their name printed in British skinzines (which were notoriously insular) as on homemade patches worn by skins in Poland. Behold, for example, this picture sent to me by an old skinhead from the southern Polish industrial town of Sosnowiec. “A friend made this patch for me”, he tells me, “and I wore it on my camouflage army jacket. That was before I started wearing a denim jacket, so definitely before 1987”.

In recent years, bands like Rixe and Iena have distilled the essence of the early Nabat sound, and the latter lads from Florence are featured on the compilation with a killer cover of ‘Zombie Rock’. When they played a rendition of this at an outdoors festival in Imola the other week, there were more people on stage than off stage… Other notable contributions include UK 82ers Concrete Bollocks from Derby, whose vocalist Ralph (now also in Crown Court) co-organised Nabat’s first ever British gig back in 2019. There’s Ultra Razzia from Canada, Ofensiva from Catalunya (whose vocalist played bass in the Italian band Chaoskins in the 00s), and many more. There’s not one bad take on this compilation, which comes courtesy of Timebomb Records, home of Italian contenders Bomber 80, IENA and Sempre Peggio. Nabat’s songs are above debate and their achievements beyond dispute – we’re talking one of the most explosive Oi bands in history. This album is “una bomba”, as an Italian would put it.
Matt Crombieboy

Collision: Sur les trottoirs LP
(Une Vie Pour Rien)

Another new release from Un Vie Pour Rien, the French label that in the 00s was putting out the best Oi zine in the world. In recent years UVPR have been specialising in the new-wave, post-punk and Blitz-inflected sounds that first came from Brest and then conquered all of France. Like the label that produced this and their previous EP, Collision are from Nantes, a town in the rainy region of Brittany. And it is perhaps from this grey setting that Sur les trottoirs, the band’s first album, takes its cue and form. Its sounds range from melodic punk to that vein that runs between Oi and post-punk, but in a more introspective key. It’s almost darkwave on some tracks – just listen to the bassline in ‘Cris Hypocrites’.

What is certain is that it tastes authentic. In the sense that they are not the usual copy-paste, but that these guys are building their identity through music. And maybe they have to, seeing as they’re all dressed in black and wearing white masks, as is evident in their recently released official video for the song from which the album takes its name. If I had to associate them with another band, I would say Syndrome 81, but I invite you to listen to them if you are interested in what has been called the ‘new wave of French Oi’.
Francesca Chiari

Kronstadt: Quai de l’ouest LP
(Un Vie Pour Rien)

Brest-Litovsk and Kronstadt – two towns which, in their own different ways, have become synonymous with the troubles of early revolutionary Russia. Litovsk and Kronstadt are also two bands from northern France, whose first albums, too, contained their fair share of doom and gloom. The latter’s self-titled debut, while not as depressing as, say, anarchists complaining about the suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion 100 years after the fact, was certainly music for rainy days.

It’s surprising, then, that the follow-up strikes the opposite note: instead of continuing the mandatory melancholia of their Breton and Norman peers, it’s all positive-sounding major scales here. While not that stylistically different from Collision (see above), the guitar sound of Krontadt’s post peace-punk is more saturated. Sometimes, as in the second song ‘Serpent’, the music has a euphoric quality often heard in alternative rock from the mid-to-late 80, from Pixies through Swedish anarcho-punk so obscure I can’t even remember the band names, all the way to Plastic Surgery’s ‘Rivolta’ (which Karl of Force Majeure once aptly described as “the most left-wing sounding music ever recorded by a far-right band”).

Kronstadt, who formed from the ashes of moody Oi merchants Traitre, are well-used to playing together, which makes for rich band dynamics, and their songwriting style has a natural flow too. It’s music outside my usual comfort zone, but it turned out to be one of my favourite releases this time. The as-of-yet nameless subgenre from northern France has finally grown on me.
Matt Crombieboy

Ad Vitam: I EP
(Mendeku Diskak)

A Canadian band that plays some good tuneful punk/Oi in a sort of Templars or No Heart vein. Very Chiswick Records in places too, only louder and more frantic. Some neat guitar work and semi shouted vocals. Probably not quite in the same league as City Ground and Force Majeure, but it’s lively and fun all the same.
Abdul Bleach Boy

Lavett: s/t EP
(Common People)

I had almost finished writing this review when suddenly a line from the lyrics jumped out at me: “When the Jew money is thrown around, you’re always the first in line”. Whoops! Not the kind of band I want to give the oxygen of publicity, I thought. But that was just a machine translation, and the original Swedish-language line, ‘när judaspengen kastas är ni alltid först till kvarn” suspiciously looked like it might actually say ‘Judas money’ or something like that.

So I consulted someone Swedish, and sure enough, that’s exactly what it said: Judas money – i.e. a reward for betrayal & nothing to with Jews. The song is about a career politician – a typical neoliberal apparatchik: “When the Judas money is thrown around, you’re always the first in line/ You eat nicely out of their hands, for they have you in their net/ You sell out everything that matters to please them/ In Brussels you grin widely, shake hands and kiss butt/ May your flags burn, may your dreams die/ The glass house will fall and your future will be destroyed/ The higher the horses, the harder the fall”

‘Nya tidens melodi’ (The melody of the new age) describes the changes that such people’s policies helped to push through in the past few decades – including in Sweden, where the celebrated ‘Nordic model’ is a thing of the past: “For those who toiled in the mire, for those who perished/ For those who didn’t live to see it all go up in flames/ For those who toiled on the shopfloors, for those who never gave an inch/ And for those who didn’t live to see the welfare state collapse.” The lyrics contrast “union slogans about being proud, strong and secure” from the old days with the present, where “a manufactured class war is all that’s left/ Waged by the middle class that understands little”. Leaving aside that the middle class is fighting a hundred manufactured culture wars rather than any kind of class war, the observation is broadly correct.

Whether you agree with the sentiments expressed or not, the band keep their promise of delivering “no sugarcoated lyrics”. Rather than peddling audience-friendly trivialities about boots and drinking, Lavett have something to say, and they say it loud – in my book, this is Oi. Musically too, a very good debut: there’s nothing post, neo, or revisionist about it, just hard-driving, unreconstructed skinhead rock ‘n’ roll with dashes of Agent Bulldogg, Daily Terror and Wretched Ones. Does anyone remember Willy Wucher’s old band Beck’s Pistols from Germany? Lavett’s vocalist sounds exactly like Wucher.
Matt Crombieboy

Daga: Veneno EP/Demo
(Amor y Rabia)

From South America and specifically from Quito, the capital of Ecuador, four tracks of pure Oi punk that won’t let you catch your breath. Initially released as a limited edition cassette on the Chivo Records label, also from Quiro, this seven-inch version is the first release of the French Amor y Rabia label. The riff of ‘Sin mirar Atras’ enters your bloodstream right away, echoing Blitz. ‘No!’, with its tight rhythm and short guitar solo, confirms that whoever is behind this instrument knows what they’re doing. With ‘Sigo aqui’ we’re entering the world of melodic leads along the lines of Peter and the Test Tube Babies, while ‘Enterrado’ closes the EP in pure UK 82 style. The voice is powerful and raw, but clear at the same time. I wish I could understand the lyrics and get a chance to see them live. Highly recommended.
Francesca Chiari

Hounds of War: Rabid March EP
(Chaotic Uprising)

Good, tuneful female fronted punk and early hardcore here. They remind of some of the early 80s US bands musically, but crossed with Vice Squad’s faster stuff. The vocals are a bit like Action Pact or Dirt on occasions. Nothing groundbreaking, but solid and enjoyable stuff.
Abdul Bleach Boy

Zanzara: Gli Occhi Dello Stato
(Common People)

I’m intensely sceptical, not to say cynical, about London bands. Having lived there for a long time, I’ve seen more than a few celebrated non-entities come and go, and let’s face it: since the 80s, it’s been extremely rare that London has produced anything worthwhile. Bands tend to rely on their connections, on hype, and on being ‘from London’ (though most of them aren’t really). When you finally hear their product, you’re left wondering what all the fuss is about – especially when there’s so many bands on the continent doing similar things, but better. There’s a couple of those about as we speak.

So, I was cautious when this album dropped out of the blue last year and seemed to be the talk of the skinternet by December. Having carefully examined the contents of this LP with the most advanced scientific methods, though, I can confidently say this is the first real contender to emerge from the Big Smoke since the birth of Crown Court in 2014. A lo-fi lockdown project by Marco Palumbo-Rodrigues, who was born in London to Italian parents, it draws on Camera Silens and Blitz – “like every other band nowadays”, I hear you say. But even so, the album sounds wholly original and stands on its own. Marco’s Italian-language vocals, which somewhat remind me of Klasse Kriminale’s Marco Balestrino, give the music a harder edge compared to French contemporaries. Then there’s the organ adding touches of garage and new wave, sometimes echoing the old Yugoslav band Termiti (though I doubt knowingly so).

I’m not sure whether it’s on account of the language alone, but the songwriting strikes me as having a continental feel too, harking back to the classics of the 80s in particular. Either way, Zanzara’s material is more than decent and withstands repeated listening – which means it might be worth checking out the follow-up that’s already underway. A good album that wants to be owned on vinyl.
Matt Crombieboy

Contempt: s/t MLP
(Mendeku Diskak)

This is a Spanish band that play some excellent metallic Oi and not to be confused with the Brummie street punk/anarcho group. A good point of reference would Codi de Silenci, I suppose, and occasionally Facao Opposta, but they also stray into Hammer and the Nails and Lovely Lads territory. Powerful guitars, some great drumming and barked, ‘gargling with broken glass’ vocals combined with dark melodies. Highly recommended.
Abdul Bleach Boy

Himnos: Le pendu EP
(Amor y Rabia)

Rowdy street rock ‘n’ roll that reminds me of nothing so much as the original 80s recordings of Bologna’s own Ghetto 84. The B-side contains a decent Spanish-language version of my fave Redskins tune, ‘Peasant Army’, signalling that Himnos might be politically somewhat left of centre. Interestingly, ‘Mexico ‘86’ is about the 1986 world cup. To my knowledge, that’s the second Oi treatment of the subject after Böhse Onkelz’ tune of the same title, which in 1985 predicted that Germany would be “world champion once again”. We all know this didn’t happen, and that was mainly thanks to the godlike Diego Maradona (RIP), the Argentinean pride of Naples, the man who had his heart and his feet in the right place and helped Argentina thwart both Germany and England back in ‘86. It is him whom the Himos tune celebrates.

This release came out on the Amor y Rabia label from Strasbourg, which does commendable work putting out skinhead bands from less exposed countries and equipping its releases with lovely artwork. Himnos hail from Guadalajara, a big city in western Mexico. A promising debut – I hope we’ll hear from them again.
Matt Crombieboy

Lethal Dose: Blood on the Streets MLP

This Dallas band has a few releases under their belt and has been compared to Negative Approach, though I definitely hear a great deal of N.O.A.T. in them as well. These influences are particularly noticeable on the awesome title track. However, much of the release channels, to my ears at least, some of the 90s US Headache record bands, particularly Wretched Ones and Headwound. There are also shades of newer bands like No Time in the mix too. Loud crunchy guitars, mob choruses and gravelly, angry bastard vocals are the order of the day here. Excellent stuff all round.
Abdul Bleach Boy

Crown Court: Sect Fifty Nine / The Scum 7′ Single

This came out in March, but we haven’t had a Record Roundup for a while and I’ll be damned if I didn’t mention it. Crown Court are back with a completely new line-up – from the look of things, Trevor has carried out a purge that would make Stalin blush, rendering himself the sole original band member. Going by this couple of tunes, we’re dealing with a new and improved Crown Court, who are very much harking back to the band’s trademark sound yet adding an even stronger Chiswick pub rock flavour to the proceedings. ‘Sect 59’ kicks off with a ‘Please Don’t Touch’ style guitar lick (the Johnny Kidd & The Pirates tune) that will remain our friend for the next three minutes or so. “I took what’s mine, just for some time, I see what’s coming, Sect 59” – for the uninitiated, Section 59 is a driving offence relating to stealing cars or motorcycles. Then the band stomp their way through ‘The Scum’, which is the affectionate nickname by which Arsenal FC fans are known in London.

I like that the 70s influence is becoming more and more prominent in Crown Court’s sound. Verdict: the new line-up is one fine band – and, with at least one professional boxer and one professional football hooligan on board, it’s certainly one that can hold its own in a scrap.
Matt Crombieboy

Attaque Zero: s/t EP and tape
(Static Shock, Sorcerer, Colilla)

A mix of anarcho-punk and street punk with some darkwave and new wave influences from this Colombian band. Think the Partisans’ second LP combined with Second Empire Justice or what Red Alert might have sounded like if they’d continued to write stuff in the same direction as ‘Tranquility’, but retaining the same energy as ‘Border Guards’. Loud, dark and with snotty vocals (that occasionally grated on me a bit, to be honest). There are a lot of bands out there doing this kind of stuff, and while this one’s enjoyable enough, there’s a not a huge amount in it to make it stick head and shoulders above the others.
Abdul Bleach Boy

Slade: Slayed? LP (reissue)

One of the all-time glam rock greats, and probably the ultimate glam rock great from a bootboy point of view. ‘How D’You Ride’, ‘Look At Last Nite’, ‘Gudbuy T’Jane’, ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’… the classics just won’t let up on this one. No Cock Sparrer, no Slaughter and the Dogs, and of course no Giuda or Dalton without this masterpiece. Now for the bad news: the first in a series of Slade vinyl reissues by BMG, this one will be released in black and yellow splattered vinyl. As anyone who knows something knows, coloured vinyl sounds shit. Why do people still press records on coloured vinyl? You buy vinyl because you want your music to sound great, not because you enjoy looking at a black and yellow splattered piece of plastic. Don’t take my word for it, google it: coloured vinyl means inferior sound. This one will be out on September 3rd, but you’re better off getting a second-hand copy of the original black disc.
Matt Crombieboy

Abrovink: Where History Still Stands EP
(Common People)

Second EP by this Oi band from Norrköping, where according to the title “history still stands”. Any idea who the bloke in the cover artwork is? I don’t.

For a Swedish band, they have quite an American, Headache Records era sound, replete with guttural vocals and only the faintest echo of Nordic melancholy. They seem to be a very patriotic band who sing about pride, heritage and legacy a lot – so why the English lyrics? While they have a decent sound, I don’t think the songwriting is quite there yet. ‘Our Legacy’ calls for an epic chorus that reflects the pathos of the words, but the one they came up with is clumsy and underwhelming. To my ears, ‘011’ is the tightest, best-written tune on the record – if they continue in this vein, their next release might turn out more solid.
Matt Crombieboy

Repeat Offender: Summary Execution MLP
(Mendeku Diskak)

This type of indistinct US hardcore can be great fun live but, to me at least, isn’t all that enjoyable to listen to at home. The lyrics are all putdowns, revenge fantasies, and threats against unnamed individuals. Personally, I find these typical hardcore tropes dull as fuck: the words are hate-fuelled, but at the same time so vague and unspecific they don’t really say anything. We never learn why the individuals in question are supposed to be so hateworthy – we’re just listening to some chap being livid at people we don’t know. ‘Revenge’ is the only track where he rises above fruitless personal hatred to make some observations of society, and that’s where things get mildly interesting.
Matt Crombieboy

Orreaga 778: Herrimina LP
(Common People)

Orreaga 778 are a Basque skin band that has been active since 2006, but only seems to release albums every six years or so, this being their fourth – and clocking in at eight tracks, it’s a fairly short one too. Most of the songs feature atmospheric/epic guitar leads and anthemic choruses, not unlike the great old Catalan communist Oi band Pilseners, but with a little dash of Viking rock. The lyrics are full of cultural and historical references, as you’d expect from any Basque, Catalan or Valencian skinhead group – they all them seem to be supporting national independence from the Spanish state, which is widely perceived as an unaccountable Francoite entity. A very decent album that would possibly benefit from a greater variety of tempos.
Matt Crombieboy

Promo Katetea Vol. 1 Tape
(Mendeku Diskak)

For the past couple of years or so, Mendeku Diskak from the Basque Country have been flogging some of the tightest, most based Oi out there, from Mexico’s Blitz/Oppressed/Exploited crossover Mess, to anthem-merchants Orreaga 778. So, right off the bat you know this one’s gonna be good. Mendaku sent me this promo tape alongside a touching message on how they want to support the scene etc. I believe them, and I concur they put plenty of passion into what they’re doing. My faves on this collection are 1) the heavy-duty Oi of Contempt, who have a slight SSS edge and are sounding so skinheadish you’d never mistake them for punks – not even balding punks, nor punks trying to play Oi, and 2) Ogro with ‘Primitivo’ – see our review of their tape below.
Matt Crombieboy

Ogro: s/t Tape
(Mendeku Disak)

Hardcore punk from the Basque Country. One of the tracks is called ‘Primitivo’, which does what it says on the tin and sums it all up. This is enjoyable, dumb music that could have been recorded at any point in the past 35 years. In fact, in its barbaric primitivo-ness and with its grunted vocals, it strongly reminds me of Siekiera, a great hardcore punk combo from Puławy that was quite popular with Polish skinheads in the 80s (they had lyrics about being a warrior, being a soldier, stabbing people, killing people, etc that would no doubt be deemed ‘problematic’ nowadays) before suddenly changing tack and recording Nowa Aleksandria, the finest cold wave album in music history. But that’s by the by.
Matt Crombieboy

Cruz Antigua: Legado EP
(Amor y Rabia)

Some two decades ago in Germany, there was a piss-take Christian Oi band named Jesus Skins, but the only serious skinhead-Christianity merger I can think of were a couple of ‘national-catholic’ bands from 90s Poland (further to Communists, Jews and Freemasons, they considered the sell-outs who convened the Second Vatican Council in 1962 to be humanity’s greatest scourge…). Cruz Antigua hail from Colombia and self-define as ‘Christian Oi’. I don’t know if that places them on the right, left, or neither in the local context, but their songs don’t appear to reflect political positions in any case. Religious themes, but also ethical ones such as integrity (‘Integridad’), set the tone instead.

While I’m personally not keen on religion, I won’t go out of my way to bash people who are. Ultimately, I prefer a person who believes in something – an ideal, an ethos, a set of principles – over the postmodern model citizen who believes in nothing except him/herself. Playing the EP without prejudice, then, what I hear is less Oi and more what you’d call skinhead rock, an on that level it delivers quite nicely. The metallic rhythm guitars give the songs a solid drive that will appeal to fans of Vis Vires and Reconquesta, but Cruz Antigua also resemble certain RAC bands from the 90s – or, if you want an example from the opposite side of the fence, Non Servium.

In Colombia, this EP was originally released as a demo tape titled Unidad & Lealtad in 2007 and has apparently only reached European shores now – but the band are definitely still going. Great cover artwork too, but that’s Amor y Rabia for you.
Matt Crombieboy


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