It is hard to imagine any punk fan not being excited about the thought of Crass frontman Steve Ignorant and Irish punk legends Paranoid Visions raging together, and even harder to think they will not be blissfully satisfied by this striking union on When…?, their impressively magnetic album. The twelve track release is a thrilling encounter, a deep pool of rebellious anarcho punk and old school contempt fused into an antagonistic diversity bred of the now. The mouth-watering album album follows on from the acclaimed If Ignorance Is Bliss EP of earlier this year and powerfully realises the triumph forcibly hinted at upon the earlier three track provocation.
The seeds to the link-up between the band and Steve Ignorant can be said to have begun way back in 1979 when a 13 year old punk kid called Peter in Dublin received a reply to a letter he had written to Crass. It set a belief in the young lad that one day he would play with the vocalist of one of punk’s all-time major forces. That teenager, guitarist P.A.Y.E went on to form Paranoid Visions with vocalist Deko Dachau and the rest as they say is history, one still going from strength to strength for the band and their unique inventive sound. The If Ignorance Is Bliss EP brought that thirty year odd dream into reality whilst When…? simply places the alignment of greats into the list of punk’s finest moments.
The Overground Records released album opens with a mix of haunting and biting calls of the name of the title track. It instantly captures the imagination, especially once joined by the thumping terraces like anthemic rhythmic beckoning and short stabs of guitar grazing. The track is pure captivation from its opening seconds, the ever distinctive and delicious caustic tones of Deko igniting the passions as potently as the sounds. Add the in-the-face delivery of Steve Ignorant, the teasing caresses of Sarah Bellum and Aoife Destruction, as well as an inventive musical taunting, and the song strides forward as an immense and riveting start to the album. It alone breeds a hunger which greedily demands and ultimately receives across the rest of the release.
The following Join The Dots is rapping at the senses from its first breath, the rhythms of Paul Zapart nagging the ears whilst a sonic and voracious mix from the guitars of P.A.Y.E and Dan Sonyagrave snarls over the barracking bait. In full charge the song becomes a riot of vintage punk, the alternating and blended vocals of the main protagonists treating the ear to a welcome uncompromising bruising whilst the ladies add an infectiousness which is like Vice Squad and Dolly Mixtures does pop punk. It is a ridiculously addictive slice of punk ‘n’ roll which again leaves the passions flying and ready for the next confrontation which comes in the sizeable form of Brain-Dance. Once again the challenging rhythmic bait is skilful and contagious, the perfect hook into the equally incendiary groove and exciting vocal ear bashing from all quarters. Already When…? is like traversing the Alps, nothing but peaks and breath-taking times rampaging through the imagination and senses.
Lyrically as to be expected the album has no fear in taking swipes at all and sundry, the man at the top, you, me, all apathies, inequalities etc. No track pulls its punches whatever the canvas the narrative is sculpted upon, the virulently contagious United Left Annoyance and the acoustically carved Log On…Bog Off no exceptions. The first of the pair has one of those hooks which haunts thoughts and vacant moments with the toxicity always prevalent in the sounds of Paranoid Visions, its call a cousin to those conjured by Buzzcocks or any version of his band Spizz examined his invention under. Its successor it has to be said took time to convince, but all the time its smouldering almost deceptive sirenesque consumption of the imagination worked away within the slowly dawning victorious persuasion.
No Contrition brawls with and challenges thoughts and emotions next, the open causticity to sound and lyrical intent providing another healthy feast for appetite and passions to devour whilst basking in the continually impressive invention upon the album, whilst Charity Begins At Home with its opening sample a full on poke at Bono and charitable deceptions, is ingenious brilliance. Abrasive and seductive in a torrent of inventive and epidemically addictive enterprise, the track is the pinnacle of the release, the highest plateau in a parade of nothing but lofty suasions.
Both the UK Subs/Crisis tinted Changing Times and the brilliant Independence Day with a presence which is best described as early March Violets meets Crass meets The Pack, continue the wonderfully imposing and passions igniting stance of the album whilst the exceptional Sex Kills attempts to steal the whole show with its carnivorous riffs and bass predation alongside another pop punk infectiousness, well if pop was in the bands of The Duel and Penetration. The rich heights of the track is soon matched by Rock n Roll n Revolution, cantankerous beats and rapacious riffs fuelled by another blaze of insatiable invention and the staggeringly impression union of two muscularly creative forces.
Closing on ?….NEHW, an unbridled ferocious take on the opener, When…? is simply magnificent, a release which is exceptional at the first meeting and grows into one of the most potent, tantalising, and creative punk albums of the year. Outstanding…quite outstanding!
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