Receiving its debut vinyl release last month, Too Many Punks Are Dead the new album from UK punk inciters Menace is another to prove that not only is there fight in the old dogs of punk but there is a passionate and creative rabidity still able to teach the genre a thing or two. When you place it’s re-release alongside the likes of this year’s offering from UK Subs, Steve Ignorant and Paranoid Visions, and 4 Past Midnight to name just three, it has been a potent year from the ‘old timers’ as they all continue to inspire generations. Menace predated most punk bands, forming in 1976, their uncluttered direct sound a spark for the likes of Sham 69, The Cockney Rejects, and arguably the Oi! movement from within punk, though they never did get the full credit they deserved when in full rage and since, but as their latest album shows the band has lost none of its contagious belligerence with maturity and time, and certainly none of its ability to sculpt addictive riots.
August 1976 saw the line-up of Morgan Webster, Noel Martin, Charlie Casey, and Steve Tannett come together soon followed by their debut gig at the now legendary Roxy. The show was attended by Miles Copeland from Step Forward and Illegal Records who signed Menace straight away. Though fans flocked to the band and their sound, they were basically ignored by media and label for whatever reasons leading to them splitting in 1979 after the release of their single Final Vinyl which contained the classic anthems Last Years Youth and Carry No Banners. After the split members of the band went on to play in Vermillion and the Aces before with a keen hunger around for Menace, the band reformed in the late nineties. A couple of EPs for German label Knockout Records and two albums via Captain Oi! in 2001 and 2004 followed to strong acclaim as was No Escape From Nowhere of 2008. Recorded and self-released as the previous album, in 2011 on CD only the well-received Too Many Punks Are Dead is a thumping bruising of prime genre invention and animosity, which with its limited edition vinyl uncaging, the release restricted to a pressing of 500, with 200 black, 200 red and 100 white vinyl copies, reminds us again of one of the genre’s important bands, past and present.
The first side of the album barges the ear with the dirty rock ‘n’ roll of Thank God I’m An Atheist, riffs and rhythms a predatory incitement providing the perfect canvas for the vocals to unleash their antagonistic narrative. The heavy throaty bass sound is an immediate lure which steals attention throughout song and release, its rabidity the intensive backbone the band swings hooks, anthemic grooves, and chants from. The track is a formidable introduction soon matched and exceeded by the outstanding I Don’t Care. With a touch of early Damned to it as well as a rich essence of Ruts, the song is a virulently contagious riot rife with inventive hooks and inspiring enterprise not forgetting compelling aggressive seduction.
Both the title track and its successor United match and drive the album deeper into the passions. The first is simply a respectful roll call of punk greats no longer with us, an impacting homage and reflection on so many who have shaped bands and punk rock as a whole. With a musical wrapping which ignites the primal rocker in us all the track is a tremendous exploit igniting nostalgia and hungry satisfaction. The second of the two swaggers in on an infectious tsunami of rhythms to which the guitars align blazes of rock riffs as vocals whip up thoughts and passions. The bass again brings an extra lick of the lips for its heavyweight prowling and as a whole the song and band again draws and exploits the primal pleasure and anarchy in us all.
As My Very Good Friend brings the A side to a close it is hard to remember Menace sounding this good and predacious musically and emotionally since those early days. The last track opens with a slow female and male vocal croon alongside a lone guitar, their reflective stroking capturing thoughts for a following ska punk eagerness to stomp through the ear. The track veers more on the punk side as it saunters along but with a healthy flame of jagged guitar to tease and coax the listener’s appetite, the track is a thrilling mix of Angelic Upstarts and The Vox Dolomites but uniquely Menace.
The second side immediately seizes the senses in a fury of belligerent punk revelry with firstly the rapacious Party Animal, another ridiculous infectious anthem, and then the excellent toxicity of Get Out There, niggling grooves an incendiary temptation within the bruising and intimidating viscous sounds. The tracks continue the impressive presence and stature of the release, the pair lingering imprints on the memory and passions as is the outstanding Busy which soon follows equipped with that instinctively resonating bass call and addiction sparking hooks.
Leave Me Alone is a raw eyeballing argumentative squall, an agonistic encounter which stands toe to toe with its intended and pulls them into a mouthwatering call to arms before passing them onto the enjoyable acoustically borne rocker We Are The Boys. Both songs bring the album to a thrilling conclusion though there is still room for a bonus track, the brilliant One Two One Two, vintage punk at its ridiculously anthemic and riotous best. It is a brilliant end to a cracking album and though there is not quite a GLC or a Carry No Banners on it, the Rebel Sound released Too Many Punks Are Dead has a wealth of tracks to show the emerging punks of today how to craft and unleash real punk rock whilst showing Menace is as influential and irresistible as ever.
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