Skacore is an acquired taste and admittedly one that I have yet to be fully convinced by, perhaps due to snobbery on my own part. Tempest, Anti-Vigilante’s latest blast of skacore is the best bet to reaffirm the sub-genre’s lack of exposure outside of its own circle. Emerging from Milton Keynes, the same town that spawned UK skacore legends Capdown, Anti-Vigilante are fast approaching ten years as a band. Despite supporting big names in punk, hardcore and ska, the four-piece has remained somewhat under the radar. After suffering a tragic loss of drummer Oli Smith, an event that would have got the best of a lesser band, the MK boys have regrouped and are back with a fiercer, harder hitting sound, and seem intent on taking skacore to new levels. Opening song Go Outside And Play sets the precedent for most of what is to follow; mosh-worthy hardcore inspired riffs juxtaposed with the skank-friendly staccato bounce of the ska moments, which make up the majority of the verses. The customary brass sections are used to brilliant effect and not just to provide some melodic backing. Saxophones scream and shriek, at times to haunting effect, adding new textures to the band’s sound.
Whereas in their debut LP, Secure Beneath The Watchful Eyes, their crossover attack could sound slightly disjointed, the ska and hardcore parts meld seamlessly into well thought out songs that never overstay their welcome. This in part is down to heightened production that gives tracks the punch they need, especially in the heavier moments where the brass is thrown to one side in favour of a good ol’ crushing breakdown such as in Count Your Blessings.
What with it being skacore and all, the lyrics are predictably politicized but are delivered in a particularly scathing manner. The subject matter of the songs such as Remember Jean Charles de Menzes – about the shooting of a young unarmed Brazilian man by police, along with anti-capitalist sentiments and sceptical social commentary are intelligent and thoughtful.
A Song For A Friend sees the band at their most stripped back both musically and emotionally as they reflect upon the untimely death of their previous drummer Oli Smith. The juxtaposition between this short, sweet acoustic and cello driven song with the aggression of the rest of the album adds a whole new element to the bands otherwise direct and aggressive sound.
This is a rare record, one that is as equally poignant and intelligent as it is good old slab of mosh inciting fun. If you think ska and its affiliated sub genres are ‘lame’ and ‘uncool’ then give this record a listen. Hopefully it will change your perceptions of skacore for the better. If not, then there is no hope for you.
4.5 out of 5 high fives!