"Anthrax/Pedagree Skum/Dogshite/Slug - Split 7” EP" (EP, 2015)
Grow Your Own
As you might expect, this release is a mixed bag, but it functions well as an introduction to what passes for the anarcho-punk scene these days.
I was always going to go for the Anthrax track (Dirty Bomb) first, and I am sorry to report that the first few seconds filled me a sick panicked terror known only to those who have gazed deep in to the abyss, and found the abyss gazing back. I speak of course of the abomination that is ‘ska-punk’.
For all I know, it’s all Lee Perry and Prince Buster on the stereo chez Anthrax, but I’d never picked up a whiff of ska influence in their music before, and to be honest I don’t really hear it now. I’m all for bands stretching out and experimenting with different sounds, but in this instance it feels bolted on.
Luckily, the situation is saved as the skanking gives way to proper riffage on the chorus, and disappears entirely from the mid section onwards, which features a nice delay-heavy guitar workout that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Ruts B-side. Everything else is great, with excellent bass (again reggae influenced, but not in a laboured way), and a proper roar of a vocal castigating the rise of UKIP and their loathsome ilk. Let’s hope the first third of the song was just a blip. 6/10
Pedagree Skum (Futility of the Human Condition). Er, well, it’s OK. Actual singing (that sounds a bit like Pauline Murray of Penetration fame), over a-punk-by-numbers chug that sounds like something else that I can’t remember the name of, the lyrics are nothing to write home about... that’s it really. “Inoffensive” is the best I can come up with. 3/10
For Dogshite’s contribution (Fuck You Rude Boy), we’re back in the shuddering abyss of ska-punk, but this time with the full complement of horrors, unalloyed by any spark of hope. It starts off relatively well, although the rancid ghost of Senser (and their even more disturbingly noxious punk-ska-metal hybrid) hangs over the first few bars. It’s well played and recorded, but is dreadful, throwaway rubbish, replete with an “I’m from Londahn innit” accent so thick it brings to mind Alisha Dixon when she was still the shouty one out of Mis-teeq, if Mis-teeq came from Holland*. The lyrics are equal poor, showing not an iota of flair, or even anger. Despite the title, the song spends half of its time attacking women with “fake tits” who make “male controlled” music, who presumably don’t measure up to Dogshite’s exacting standards off what ‘real’ women are like. On top of all this, they reference that most up to date of challenges to contemporary feminism – the Spice Girls. 0/10
And so, on to Slug (W.M.D.), who I have roundly slagged in the past, and of whom I was expecting almost nothing. Happily, I was wrong. While it’s not something I would seek out to listen to, it has a tune, the vocals stay on the right side of the ‘pissed Yeti’ style so beloved of grubby men with tattoos and dreadlocks, and it’s almost sprightly. The lyrics are a bit lack-lustre, and they’re not afraid to state the bleedin’ obvious (Corporate media = bad), but it’s not the unlistenable sludge I was expecting. 4/10
Overall score 3.25/10 (bumped up to 5/10 for the cover/ poster)
Nick Hydra (September 2014)