VICE SQUAD – BATTLE OF BRITAIN BY FUNGAL PUNK http://www.fungalpunknature.co.uk
The art of perseverance is one of the few aspects of the human condition that I can genuinely applaud and encourage in others. It emanates a defiant passion, it exudes belief and it cultivates hope in many who are thinking of abandoning their efforts. Vice Squad have stuck at it, from the days when my pimpled arse waggled to the local Record Exchange and came home with a copy of the ‘Last Rockers’ release to the present day when I have received this latest album to assess via the WWW (Wank Wired Webbery). The band have ridden the rollercoaster of acclaim, been praised, overlooked and let down.
They have had success in various measure but by simply ‘sticking at it’ is the greatest triumph of all. And so here is my take on the latest offering, a view that will be sincere, candid, genuine and I hope, critically considerate. If you have stuck with the band for this long, a little extra time reading some Fungalised spillage will do you no harm…then again!
The key to starting any great album is to open with a clatter and ‘Ruination’ does just that. An instantaneous hurtler that travels with relish, controlled clout and tight and compact rock and roll minstrelisation. A skid, a heavy bass support rib-rattle, a slap eager time-keeper and the salivated thirst of the she-lead leaves us enlivened, foaming and ready to ping. The acute intent radiated shows a crew keen to make a statement and to get things rolling without any thought of ‘tossing off’. The thrust cuts through the airspace with power, swoops and soars in an unorthodox style and shoots down any doubting doodlebugs with determined accuracy – kaboom.
‘I Dare To Breathe’ drum seizures, focuses with white-light attention before the she-gob hollers off and gets many frustrations and irritations off her chest. The travelling tonality is persuasive, all-action and radiates a desire to make the sonic flames as intense and as searing as possible. The impact of the DIY mix is spot on and shows what can be accomplished with dedication and an attention to detail. Pace aplenty, a sure-fire hunger and a restless defiance still alive and kicking, this fast-running mongrel of music has a certain pedigree born only of many a year humping with passion and doing things for the love of it. This is not an orthodox arrangement but still has solid wallop.
‘When You Were 17’ looks back with nostalgic bitterness and sees a state of misdirected passion and anger through shit-stained specs of reality rather than those rose coloured bins too many comfortably adopt. The opening thrust is neat and observant, plays things cool and says what it sees. The underscore of the backline is well-weighted and leaves room for the fore-strings to react, strum and provide a good dose of power. Lead lass Becky warbles in that fine distinctive semi-smoked, semi-gravelled way with the usual vixen tones clear and effective. The end result is of a song that is rock solid and watertight and all parcelled and packaged in a very gratifying way. 3 down, things are looking good.
‘Ignored To Death’ permeates the sensors from darkened recesses of noir-esque sinisterism. A creepy kind of song that moves with a sublime shiftiness and so, as a result, takes a little adjusting to. Patience becomes the virtue has the tendrils of the song slowly reach out, clutch and squeeze out an affirmation of positivity. The band are not following the tick-box punk route here (thank fuck) and throwing forth styles and sonic situations that keep the CD breathing. The content deals with the overlooked and left behind (always applaudable) and does so with anger kept on a leash. I play the first 4 songs over again and consider all my thoughts and the whole group as a batch – I am finding no blemishes or disappointments and reckon this latter song is a nice extra ingredient.
Visceral meat-mincing riffery opens up ‘Born In A War’ with the following assault the most salivated and brow-furrowed fling out so far. A seething relish to deliver the goods is blatant, the mauled and molested cable work glows with white heat, the fiery thrust and utter disgust at humanities seeming penchant for disaster is spat forward and left for us to contemplate further. Never just listen to the racket, always try and see what the content involves. I am bomb-blasted here, I fly from the crater of cacophony with a smile on my face and conveniently fall ‘arse first’ on the ‘replay’ button.
Further into the noise I go. That old composing minstrel Elgar takes us into the attack known as ‘Battle Of Britain’ with much ceremonious pomp that certainly sets a stage. The VS brigade soon take the reins and throb with a thirst whilst laying down their heavyweight observations of a country turned to shit. Imbalance, corruption, selfish ‘take, take’ behaviour and suffering for the one’s not granted luck-based privileges – it is a real mire that sees the band foaming. If I was grading songs so far this would be the least favoured with the chuggery taking time to adjust to and the flow needing a little work via the lugs – this doesn’t make it a duff do though and it has a strong essence for sure.
I snatch at the next two outpourings, ‘Poverty Face’ is a grim-faced affair, rolling in like a distant thunder ready to pour forth many damning needles of icy factual rain and hopefully leave us soaked through with realisation and forethought. The rigidity of the song is stable, the drive without any off-road veering and the substrate under the travelling tonal tyres founded on many good nutrients of noise. As the sonic skies open, the band continue their excursion and leave one impressed – a hard hitting number for sure and I am happy to be splattered and battered.
‘How The Other Half Lives’ comes from a dust-laden DIY wasteland, fights its way through the plumes of cloying filth and finds light enough to see how the leeches, parasites and power-wanking maniacs thrive. Served up on our ever-waiting platters is a dish well-calculated and blended here with no outlandish spices present or persuasive sugars that are easily digested and forgotten about. The chefs have taken their time, gone for a low-simmer option and made sure all ingredients are well-balanced. Not the most savoury dish, but avoiding a dreaded blandness that may cause the indulger to pass on to the next course. Take your time here, toss things around your palette and consider the intent – you may be more impressed than you think.
Slamming headlong into the last 4 and the chug devilment of ‘No Evil’ comes from the heart with a ditty for the diluted and diluters splashed with venomous angst borne from the idiocy of the blinkered. The heavy-duty clobberin’ time throb is akin to the genital pangs of a horned up Ben Grimm (Marvel Readers take note) who is ready to clout out his worth with no nonsense taken. Our Bondaged lady at the front seethes with passion whilst her partners in crime flex muscle and make for an unapologetic hard-rocked number. The Fantastic Four are striving to save their sonic world – do not be a Doc Doom and bring forth your ignorance and eyes-wide shut madness – there is enough of that already in this world as the band so readily point out.
‘Mainstream Media’ deals with the info mockery and the insecurity it creates. The tension emanated from the strings and the slapping skin work all focus and zone-in to add weight to a finger-pointing intention aimed at the pseudo-reality disjointing enterprise of the damning tale tellers and distorters of fact. The spurious filth is passed forth, the masses gorge, the result is a nation of bloated apathy. The band radiate seething emotion here, there is every reason to. The song is sinewy, hard-fought and neatly imposing – at such a late stage the CD is still keeping things tight and controlled, but very fiery.
The last two, and oh what a brace upon which to finish. ‘You Can’t Fool All Of The People’ begins with considered orchestration and a certain exactitude in the approach. The measured ascension comes with great looming prowess and shows a band exploring and with a determination not to remain in the strict generic grooves so many stupidly expect. Here the band stretch, adopt a slower a pace and bring out the best in themselves. Brooding, politically pertinent, showcasing the lead lasses’ quality lilts and making for one really impressive donation. The CD needed this, almost like a penultimate shadowed punctuation mark and leaving only one way to go…!
‘Pulling Teeth’ needs to be a contrast, needs to oppose its predecessor and yet compliment it in the same gasping breath. It does just that! The metallic start, the salivating, acute and revved up vocals are all slapped into our expectant mush with great effulgent gumption that releases a distinct frustration with the idlers, disorganised and time-wasting twats who make the simple things in life so ruddy tortuous. To play a gig, to deliver one’s noise should be, in theory, pretty straight forward, but like in all areas of life, the best way to do things is your own way and use as few external elements as possible. DIY is the way, without it one can end up in huge gnarled knots of disgruntlement which is no good at all. A fine kick-out to finish this, powerful and in yer face – magic.
As said, Vice Squad are producing their best music to date and are worthy of good praise here. I have never been one to kiss arse, blow smoke up rectums or try to win favour with anyone. All I can do is play things straight and acknowledge good noise and be critical when the need arises (as many will testify to). This is good wholesome racket-making that has life, thought and gusto – and some moments are just ruddy exemplary. Mind you, after so many years of dabbling, things really shouldn’t be any other way.