It has not been an easy ride for Scottish punks 4 Past Midnight over the couple of decades the band has been creating prime genre provocation but thankfully the determination of the Glasgow quartet, though severely tested at times, has emerged victorious meaning we get to be buffeted and thrilled by the likes of their new album Life On The Inside. A thumping riot of grouchy punk rock and bruising rock ‘n’ roll, the fifteen track release is an exciting onslaught of passion and aggression which clearly shows 4 Past Midnight as still one of the most respected as well as recognised inventive bands within British punk.
Formed in 1989, the band was soon under strong attention and responses with their first release, the ten track Start Of The Liberation demo of 1990. Well received it led to live performances around Scotland leading up to the 1992 released Smash The Front. Again the album was keenly received and responded to but gigs were becoming harder to come by for the band, a situation which continued in both aspects with Pain, Greed And Death the following year. Acclaim was again garnered by the release but shows were scarce to put it mildly, a problem which remained as the likes of the 15 track cassette Midnight Escapades, the Get A Life single and EP The Fears We Hide were unveiled to greater attention over the next couple of years but no one seemed to want to put the band on in venues. At this point the band called it a day but renewed interest in their music saw them return in 1998 under the name Trickshot. The name change was not received well and the band reverted to their original title with The Ruff Demo and The Best And The Worst Of 4pm following, and for a while more shows promisingly did materialise but debut CD Jesus Christ Its 4pm Again in 1999 followed the earlier pattern, eagerly received but gigs came to a crawl.
2002 saw the band link up with Stu of S.T.P for a last charge on the punk scene. The Mental Ward EP and Trials And Tribulations continued to gain success as did the Punkology compilation of 2008 though the 2006 SOS Records British Invasion Fest and a tour of the East Coast of the US with The Angst led to less unhappy experiences with the latter seeing the band fall apart whilst the release of their Guilty As Charged album never happened as the label went bust. Slipping forward slightly to 2011 and again through fan pressures and wants, vocalist/drummer Peter linked up with fellow band original rhythm guitarist Fred to have another assault on the scene with new members in bassist Stevie and lead guitarist Tam joining the band. The first result is the excellent Life On The Inside via STP Records, an album which leaves you breathless and hungry for much more.
The release storms from the blocks with the outstanding Broken. The track is an instant call of riffs and rhythmic temptation which expands into a hook cored slice of essential punk rock. The caustic enticement of the gravelly vocals and the infectious lure of the song are irresistible whilst the riffs scrub out an enslavement to compliment what is a deceptively familiar feel to the song. A lyrically emotive track which is like a mix of UK Subs, Angelic Upstarts, and Stiff Little Fingers in many ways, it makes for an immense start soon matched by the following Nightmare and its successor Any Other Way. The first is virulently contagious; its seduction starting from the first spirals of sonic engagement and elevating through the catchy barbed hooks and bass prowling before the anthemic chorus locks in the passions and throws away the key. Snarling and confronting from its first aggressive note and syllable right through to its fiery finish, the track is the first of many pinnacles on the album. It is equally matched by the second of the two, the song a less antagonistic roar in the ear but one which still embroils feet, voice, and emotions in a riotous slice of punk rapaciousness.
The abrasive Crisis like Riot brawls with the ear next to again pleasing contagion soaked effect, though it does not quite match what came before and certainly falls before the might of next up Justified. The track creates another major highlight upon the album, riffs and drums building walls of addiction whilst the vocals climb their heights and senses with angry intent. A song about domestic abuse, it is a commanding punk ‘n’ roll provocateur with a furious energy which reminds of UK rockers Dirt Box Disco.
The album continues to exploit the already awakened passions through the likes of the outstanding Punk Rock Noise (4pm crew pt3), a track opening with a hook that is the close relation to that cast on Pretty Vacant and evolving into a ridiculously catchy terrace like anthem, the ferociously bruising Story Of My Life, and the dark compelling Hollie. The song about sexual abuse hits home hard whilst recruiting energies and emotions into another unmistakable potent triumph to follow predecessor, the more than decent Nothing Has Changed. All tracks stand out with individual character and passionate craft, though every song to be fair can be wrapped in that descript, as shown by The Truth Is Out There, the song an insatiable riot springing from TV show The X-Files.
The tracks and quality keep coming thick and fast, the dirty rock seeded attack of Trapped and the old school punk bred The Fight plundering the emotions to ignite another dose of rapture whilst What You Gonna Do has an Sham 69 oi snarl to its thumping rock ‘n’ roll confrontation to continue the cementing of Life On The Inside deep into the heart.
Bringing the release to an incendiary finale, Who Takes The Blame and How Does It Feel ignite ears and emotions with their ferocious riff driven anthemic persuasions, the first through another heavy slice of punk brutality sculpted with precise craft, epidemic hooks and rhythmic tension, and the closing track with its straight forward stomp of infection clad dirty rock ‘n’ roll.
4 Past Midnight has set loose one of the punk triumphs of this year, the last and maybe as far back as their previous attack. Life On The Inside is a gem you cannot help missing away from its muscular incitement and a band you all should petition local venues for to get them tearing up your town.
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