One of those releases you lick your lips in anticipation over, Battle On is the coming together of two of America’s finest oi provocations for one invigorating spilt. Uniting Para Elite and Total Annihilation for a choice slab of Patriotic Oi, the Skinflint Music released album is ten tracks of eighties seeded, invention fuelled punk rock to fire up the senses and passions.
The first half of the album is provided by LA band Para Elite. Consisting of drummer Cliff Warby (formerly of UK Oi band Condemned 84), vocalist Coop (of White Flag Down who only recently came to an end), guitarist Jason (Lone Soldier), bassist Rob, and Tony (Rhythm Collision), the band, as indeed their companions on the album, stand eye to eye, toe to toe with the listener and abrase ears and emotions with prime Oi punk antagonism.
First track Battle Cry immediately stirs senses and thoughts as Coop stands alone pressing ears. This is instantly reinforced as a spicy tendril of guitar opens up alongside him, swiftly followed by a pulsating bassline and jabbing beats. Offering a juicy metal bred groove to its rhythmic tempting and great raw vocals, the song instantly defies expectations already gathered for the Oi punk fuelled release with its flavoursome variety. As proven across the whole release, both bands musically and lyrically challenge as with punk bred antagonism but do it in their own compromising way which people can take or leave. The opener makes a potent start to the release but is only an appetiser to the excellent lure of Don’t Wanna Hear It. Gripping the imagination with its opening flame of old school punk soaked guitar, the encounter settles into a provocative stroll with group vocal calls and a fiery texture to hooks and riffs performing aural slavery. The track is in swift control of body and emotions, its anthemic lure and potency an instant protagonist not demanding but certainly provoking reaction.
Hang The Banker is the same, a song which does not bully but definitely has inescapable and immediately riveting steel to its fury. With a chorus which enlists listener participation within the call of only its first line and barbed hooks to bait the passions of any kind of punk rock fan, the track is an addictive ‘call to arms’ igniting thoughts and views as easily as feet and the passions. It is a success matched by next up Patriot, its opening rally of seductive and contagious drumming alone binding bait. Broadening its enticing with similar riveting flames of acidic guitar and the ever inflammatory tones of Coop, it is simply incendiary rock ‘n’ roll with everything slimline but of the richest potency and persuasion.
Finishing their participation with Skinheads, an outstanding cover of the Condemned 84 track which thrills like a mix of Sham 69 Angelic Upstarts, and The 4-Skins but is still all Para Elite, the band leaves a blissful grin on the emotions, their old school yet fresh Oi tenacity and invention lighting nostalgic and new fires. Something which Denver quartet Total Annihilation also easily inspire with their striking sound, an encounter merging Oi, punk, and heavy rock for an easy to greedily devour incitement. Starting with the raw assault of In Bed with the Reds, the band unleashes a distinctive and flavoursome dirty rock ‘n’ roll encounter. The song is a cauldron of spicy grooves and caustic riffs over seen by the great grizzled hostility lined vocals of Jimi (Working Class Heroes). It is also ridiculously contagious as is the following Death of a Nation, a track forging another rock stomp of punk and venomous rock ‘n’ roll for a belligerent and sonically inflamed brawl for ears and emotions. Guitarist Alex (Justice Blocc) colours the provocation with gripping riffs and sonic flames whilst the menacing basslines of Chris (ex-Outta Controllers(Working Class Heroes, Working Class Heroes) flirt forcibly as they align to the intimidation clad swings of drummer James (Archnemesis).
Puttin in the Boot continues the spicy mixture, the song as its predecessor as much seeded in a Motorhead as it is in a Skrewdriver or indeed a Condemned 84. With a great blues tang to the guitar and incendiary riffery, the track is another tub thumping incitement though soon left looking paler by the brilliant Scene Slut. Part blues, part psychobilly and plenty punk, maybe we should call it Oi-billy; the track is an infectious stomp with more virulence to its tempting than the Playboy mansion.
Closing with the uncompromising inciting of Criminal Invasion, punk rock as raw and unpolished as it is always meant to be, the band leaves ears and passions on a high as the song brings the outstanding release to an impressive conclusion. Battle On is easily one of the best splits heard not only within punk but rock music in general this year. Oi fuelled but simply rock ‘n’ roll at its primal and instinctive best, the album is an easy recommendation for all punk fans.
Battle On is available from November 25th via Skinflint Music @ http://shop.skinflintmusic.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=755 , the first pressing of 300 coming in a gatefold jacket and the second pressing with a standard jacket available on white/yellow split vinyl (125 copies) and black (175 copies) vinyl.
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