CUFFS – To Hell and Back

Pic By Mitchellsvisuals

In a world which makes personal and observational contention an instinctive reaction, UK punks CUFFS share their own grievances within a debut album which is echo like in its connection to that intimate dispute. To Hell and Back in title and dissension is a voracious journey accosting the life trespassing issues and injustices thrust upon the world; it is also one gripping challenge and pleasure breeding slab of hardcore punk.

Since emerging in 2019, Bristol hailing CUFFS have earned a potent reputation for the live presence, one where chaos and intensity merges with craft; a growing stature more than cemented with shows alongside the likes of BOB VYLAN, HAGGARD CAT, GRAPHIC NATURE, VUKOVI and EL MOONO as well as performances at festivals such as at Burn It Down, Attitude and Turbulence. Similarly, previous singles have marked the quartet as ones to watch and now for us courtesy of To Hell and Back, that request has become a demand.

As we said, the band’s first album is a collection of tracks sparked by a turbulent world and witness its serious life disturbing corruption, discriminations, apathy to such villainy and the likes. It is also one sharing intimacy with its authors sharing mental health issues and heart disturbing experiences suffered. There is an open rage to it but one often delivered with calm contemplation and throughout in thoughtful impact and enterprise.

The album opens with the tension wired Intro, the introduction a moving web of sound around ripe vocal musing to set the tone as well as the evocative landscape and emotional quarrel at the heart of To Hell and Back, the release and its next up title track. Opening with a great testy bassline from Will Grant as vocalist Brodie Morgans lurks, the song all the while brewing a sonic cloud through guitarist Matthew Cook, it soon reveals its full prowling prowess. With the pugilistic jabs of drummer Lewis Harwood a relentless but enlivening confrontation and sonic hooks honed into scythes of temptation, the track harassed and sparked the senses in swift time.

The track also proved that if not quite a cross over proposition, the CUFFS sound blurs the lines between genres, the likes of rap and alt metal a breath in its hardcore and organic punk rock breeding, a fusion of sorts echoed in the following King’s Horses and To The Bone. The first of the two gallops through ears with nostrils flared and ire honed into contagious voracity while casting inescapable rhythmic manipulation while the second from a sonic squall around vocal altercation is soon springing an evolving trap of esurient rhythms and instinctive punk insurgency. It is a kaleidoscope of twists and turns loaded with enterprise and a thickly compelling moment greedily devoured.

Witch Nails has a dirty hard rock meets classic metal hue to its agitated body, equally a grunge nurtured breath lies across its aligning toxic and captivating textures both in sound and Morgan’s impassioned delivery while Bittersweet weaves its own tapestry of invention and uniqueness to similarly enthral and spark addicted attention. The latter is a brief melodically cast instrumental which is not so much a moment to take a breath from the tempest but a fresh incitement for emotions and thoughts to examine and personally evolve.

Next up Scandals and Vandals also starts with a composed beckoning, if with a more volatile presence, but is soon bouncing across the senses with Harwood’s rhythmic orchestration and Cook’s caustic sonic tendrils. In the middle, Morgan again considers and casts a readily familiar dilemma yet thoughts subsequently wrapping around hope and supportive defiance as the track reaches the full cyclonic impact of its increasingly irritable tempest.

Through the blistering and virulent noise punk uproar of OCD and You Make Me Sick with its post punk nagging and corrosive furore, CUFFS reveal more of the diversity within their sound and invention. Again it is more an embrace of essences than full on genres the band entangle their hardcore punk instincts in but dexterity bringing true individuality to each song within the album and their music as a whole as again proven by Watch Me Die and its melodically scorched, grunge and alt rock infused punk ‘n’ roll discord.

Ear gripping, passion stoking Cash Cow sets yet another compelling peak to the release, the track a bullish and incensed accusation to all sides of governance and acceptance set in an inferno of emotion and raw sound uncaged to inflame and as we soon found to ignite the passions before leaving Selfish Desires to delve into personal shadows and the deepest depths of emotional difficulties. With Morgan an emotive captivation within the melodic weave of Cook, the song is a thickly magnetic lament with its own simmering of corrosive desperation which eventually rises and boils over in a sonic and vocal pyre. 

It is a superb end to an outstanding release which has only grown more impacting, irresistible and inspiriting by the listen. This is CUFFS and thankfully for us they have been To Hell and Back.

To Hell and Back is out now; available digitally and on LTD ED vinyl @ 

Pete RingMaster 23/02/2023

Copyright RingMaster Review

Categories: Album, Music

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