Review: Snake – Love, Hate, Life, Death [EP]

They say punk is dead in the UK. Well while it might not be alive and kicking, it’s got a pulse. As proof, we bring you Snake.

Snake, in their current form, are a ‘bare-essentials’ punk two-piece. What the shitting hell is ‘bare-essentials punk’ you ask? Put it this way: there’s a single guitar, one set of drums, and fervid, vehement vocals – the bare-essentials of hardcore punk. But by calling them ‘bare-essentials’ I don’t mean any disrespect – the sounds breaking forth from these two brothers from Kingston Upon Thames, London, is violent, harsh, and – considering there is only two of them – bloody impressive. Don’t get me wrong, the sound of a bass is salient in its absence, but that doesn’t mean you miss it. By powering forward with just a guitar, drums, and the bile in their lungs, you get a destructive rawness when listening to Snake’s new EP, Love, Hate, Life, Death. It’s just like moshing into a grater, y’know?

The rawness isn’t just created by absence either. It’s not just there because of a lack of a bassist, because of a failure to apply some technical gloss, or because of a bit of production polish that never got added. The fresh out of the cauldron vibe is fully sought after, the EP was played and recorded live. No polish wanted, no gloss needed. This is brutal punk, made to be heard loud, seen live, and to completely lose your shit to.

The EP kicks off with ‘Love’, not the most coveted topic of punk. Although it’s a pretty slow starting pace, singer/guitarist Louis’s vocals manage to add some fleeting urgency and carry the melody of the track. The drums, played by brother Will, pound on with a constant driving beat throughout the song. It certainly manages to be dark and gloomy, but that’s a dynamic you expect to find midway through a full length release, not as the opening track of a short EP. All in all, it is possibly the weakest of the four-track release, sticking to the same pattern and sounding more sad and pessimistic than aggressive. It’s mostly just a shame because it gives such a false impression for what lays ahead; luckily, it isn’t a sign of what follows!

‘Hate’ really picks up the momentum, kicking on with the pace and developing an intensity in the music, while a real catchiness manages to cling to the core of the song. I guarantee that this track in particular will have a whole crowd screaming angrily back at the band: “I’m A Lost Soul, I’m A Lost Soul, I’m A Lost Soul, I’m A Lost Soul”. It would be difficult to find a fan – especially a punk fan – who can’t find a sense of resonance with that. In fact, much of the EP will strike a chord with the troubled souls listening. Everybody’s felt lost sometime… I can’t stress how much more I enjoyed this second track than the first. It’s faster, but still low, cranking up the aggression. It’s almost cathartic, screaming out all of the clenched up anger and unleashing a destructive, fast-paced storm of punk.

‘Life’ continues down the path Hate started us on. On this track in particular, I think the introduction of a bass would be a loss rather than a gain. The rawness Snake capture really can’t be overstated. With a constant powerful riff ‘Life’ is as effective as possible, giving you a reason to get angry – if you weren’t already – and making you want to tear shit up. This is what punk is about, with crunching breakdowns closing out. Final track ‘Death’, despite its name, has got a real positive message: don’t be afraid, don’t dread death, and live life to the fullest. It’s not the message you usually expect from punk, but I really enjoy the positive vibes laid in a blanket of aggressive screams. More dirty riffs, more coarse vocals, more quality punk. This is more like it.

If you enjoy your punk loud, fast, and full of intensity, you need to check out Love, Hate, Life, Death; if that’s not how you enjoy punk, are you sure you even like punk? Seriously?! What can we take from these four tracks? Well Snake have some serious promise. That’s a fact. Despite a somewhat underwhelming start, this lures you in and leaves you wanting more; that’s the job of an EP, so mission accomplished.

4 out of 5 high fives!

TBO Update – 18 May 2015

Hey hey!

So I’m currently in the middle of moving house and internet is extremely intermittent. I’ve got a few articles and reviews coming up which will go live as and when I can get them up! But normal service will resume from 1 June.

xoxo – Robyn

Review: WOAHNOWS – Understanding and Everything Else

Following a slew of successful singles and some good ol’ fashioned non-stop touring, south-west indie punks WOAHNOWS have delivered their debut album on the consistently excellent Big Scary Monsters label. Understanding and Everything Else is packed with riotous riff rock interwoven with catchy pop hooks, successfully translating the duo’s raucous live experience into half an hour of solid punk bangers.

Their first release as a two-piece since the departure of former bassist Dan James, the interplay between singer-guitarist Tim Rowing Parker and drummer Adam Wherly is as tight as our newly elected government. The guitar riffs and drums organically meld together as one instrument, with a fantastically live feel to the recording.

Previous WOAHNOWS releases have been promising but, for this reviewer, somewhat samey in terms of sound and style; as much as I loved the likes of Go and Collective Aspiration the songs on Understanding… are far more distinctive and individual from each other. Each track has its own identity, from the fast riffy punk of ‘Sounds Like Spitting’ to the Tubelord-esque singalongs on ‘Life In Reverse’. The band even slow it down for some 6/8 balladry on ‘Neutral Haste’, which provides a welcome midway interlude. As ever with WOAHNOWS the vocals are stand-out brilliant, with some terrific gang shouts and harmonies throughout. They’ve even managed to squeeze in a cheeky hardcore section on album highlight ‘Livid / Rise’, which is gloriously vitriolic and will kick ass in a live setting.

The guitar tone throughout is bang-on, with some filthy fuzz contrasted with the sort of clarity that every riff-based indie band has been chasing since Dananananaykroyd’s debut. The guitar riffs worm their way into your brain, being equally as catchy as the vocal melodies and disprove the notion that punk rock ran of ideas years ago.
The album will no doubt appeal to fans of Gnarwolves, Brawlers and Pulled Apart By Horses, with infectious melodies perfectly balanced alongside a credible punk rock attitude and pit-worthy mosh-outs. It is worth mentioning what a perfect signing WOAHNOWS are for BSM; the band sound absolutely made for the label’s shouty yet catchy ethos, and the label are home to some ideal bedfellows for the Plymouth boys to hit the road with.

WOAHNOWS are touring the UK and Europe throughout May and June and will no doubt be soundtracking the summer festival season too. See you at the front!

4.5 out of 5 high fives!

Review: Hora Douse – Crash [EP]

Hora Douse, a “Mancunian rock band from Leeds”, have got ambition. This much is clear from the opening bars of eponymous track ‘Crash’. It would be way too easy to slap a ‘these dudes sound like early Brand New/Braid/insert your favourite emo band here’ on Hora Douse, but one thing that they may have in common with these contemporaries is that they know how to craft a hook, and they know how to get your attention in less than 30 seconds.

‘Crash’ may hark back to the early Long Island scene, and its chorus could easily stand toe to toe with any track on Your Favourite Weapon. It’s full of emotion and melody, backed up by a crisp guitar tone and impeccable rhythm. ‘Bored’, by contrast, is furious and relentless; its grunge-tinged fade-in belies a frantic, two-minute assault. There’s flashes of that classic British alt-rock sound a la Hell is for Heroes or Reuben lingering within, along with one hell of a breakdown towards the end. But nothing compares to the masterpiece that is ‘Speak’. It begins with pretty, languishing riffs, leading to poignant and gentle vocals. “I am better now that I am free,” sings Tom Lee, following a slick transition from ethereal riffs to a solid rhythm and an incredible instrumental section that lasts until the end of the track. It’s a bold move, and one that leaves you wanting.

Therefore, the one thing lacking from Crash is longevity. While it’s definitely a record I’ll be pulling tracks from to put on mixtapes, or to add to my ever-growing ’emo revival’ playlist, there’s simply not enough here to showcase just how great Dora House are and to keep them in the forefront. The band are currently in the midst of writing for their debut full-length, and it just can’t come soon enough. Dora House are impressive, the sound they create is vital, and a full-length record will help them to get the recognition they so deserve. So head to Bandcamp, sling a couple of quid their way, get some great music and pave the way for something even greater to begin.

4 out of 5 high fives!

Help Get Cause of Accident Into the Top 40!

It might not be big, and it might not be clever, but the new single from Cause of Accident is very, very funny, and definitely strikes a chord. A loud and fast anti-Tory rant for the Facebook generation, ‘Sick of This Shit’ by Cause of Accident nails it on the head – we are bloody sick of these rich, self-serving twats and it’s about time we got someone else in charge of this rock.

Buy the single from Amazon or iTunes now and help get it into the top 40 in time for the General Election on 7 May. Even if it doesn’t get there, all of the profits go to The Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest organisation of food banks, which is sadly growing and growing thanks to the current austerity measures. So yeah – we love the track, you should too, go and do some good!

Also, go and vote next week. But not for the Tories, or for UKIP, or the BNP. Ta.