A release which passed us as probably it did a great many at the tail end of last year, Nails the debut EP from UK noise punks GagReflex is a release and introduction to its creators which undoubtedly still needs a bit of late retrospective investigation. Consisting of four tracks making for a stirring and intrusively provocative presence, the EP is an early marker for a band which has all the promise and inventive craft to evolve into an even more potent and gripping confrontation.
Hailing from Cheltenham, the band consists of bassist/vocalist Stu Hawkins and drummer Seb Goffe. Their sound as you might suspect from the line-up of instruments is a throaty and uncluttered enticement, a new direction for a pair of musicians used to a more conventional band situation. Bands such as Morkobot with their bass only attack has always sparked a strong hunger for us and GagReflex is no different, their sound intimidating and predacious whilst simultaneously captivating with an infectious enterprise and carnivorous imagination.
Opening track Cut To The Spike opens on a lure of sonic tempting with swift to join rampant rhythms, the combination instantly riveting and even more so once the darker heavier bass tone takes its place in the persuasion. A niggling groove taunts the ear in the background before sheltering behind the soon involved intensive walls of rhythmic narrative led by the punkish vocals of Hawkins. Magnetic and contagious the song is like the greatest evil, menacing, fiercely intrusive, and wholly seductive. Post punk whispers are a healthy by-product of the instrumentation and just as welcome as the caustic touch of the song, the whole inspired union a striking first encounter.
I’ll Be The Hyena offers a lighter again post punk tempting to start things off, thoughts of The Three Johns and in many ways Gang Of Four raising an appearance. It soon develops a sterner and darker riling which like the first song finds an eager appetite lying in wait for its concussive rhythmic juggling and darkly sonic narrative. As before there is plenty of imagination involved to keep the song fresh and intriguing whilst musically it works on the primal side of satisfaction.
Both Chew Myself and What’s The Deal, Kim Jong-il? to conclude the EP unveil distinctive and seditious incitements, the first with a melodic toast to the punk rock vocals wrapped by the guttural croon of the bass within another sculpted rhythmic cage and the closing track through its blaze of spiky rhythms and snarling bass painted sound. There is a more new wave like pop lure to the final song and throughout the Nails EP there is that almost taunting irresistible light charm or is that venom which leaves ear and imagination greedily contented.
Though their demo debut is raw and coarse around the edges, Nails is a thoroughly pleasing and adventurous encounter. GagReflex is a fresh animosity for noise rock and one which surely will gain stronger vitriolic depths ahead for all our benefits.
The Nails EP is available as a free download from http://gagreflex.bandcamp.com/
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