Hailing from South Africa, punk band The Old-timers has forged themselves a quite potent spotlight not only in Christian punk but the punk underground as a whole with their releases. Now the trio return with their finest moment yet, the Be Reconciled EP. With a broader sound and inventive nature, the release catches the imagination with infectious slices of raw and organic punk rock and a premise which asks questions of thoughts. The band’s fourth release, the EP is simply another open step forward in the presence and sound of The Old-timers.
The band was formed in 2011 by Cape Town vocalist Dave Emerson and Port Elizabeth guitarist/bassist Donovan de Necker, its seeds first sown when they met whilst the latter visited the home town of the former whilst on holiday. From the pair’s unplanned meeting they found plenty to connect over, punk rock being one big love for both. Writing and sharing songs over the vast distances between them through technology, the band emerged with a demo Punk’s Not Dead! Nor Are We!, which brought them to the attention of Christian Punk label Thumper Punk Records. Soon after its release the duo recruited Californian drummer Matt Lagusis whilst Thumper Records released the band’s following impressive releases, the 2012 album Soli Deo Gloria and the Spiritus Sanctus at the end of last year. Both releases showed the continuing growth in sound and songwriting, an evolution pushed again by Be Reconciled.
The new EP is a concept release, its premise following the story of a life finding the light from a dark destructive place, “from sinner to repentance to reconciliation through Jesus.” That journey can be translated into a search we all embrace at some point in our lives within or outside of religion, and in its infusing of keys, a capella harmonies, and spoken poetry within old school fuelled punk rampages, Be Reconciled is a masterfully riveting encounter which works on ears and emotions. It starts with Hole in My Heart, a track which instantly lights ears with its rising persistence of riffs and stomping rhythms. The song, as the vocals, roars with a rapacious intensity and air as the guitar of de Necker expels caustic riffs and enticing hooks whilst his bass prowls the song with a devilish intent. It is an outstanding start to the release, the song’s NOFX like raucousness and Exploited like intensity bound in grooves and hooks which simply infests the imagination, whilst the inventive pounding from Lagusis and vocal demand of Emerson round off the potent lure of the song.
The spoken poetry of Blessings Out of Buffetings is next, voice and haunting keys the protagonist accompanied by percussive taunting. It is a track which alone you would say is for those of faith but within the narrative of the EP and linking the opener and the following Hope for the Rejected, it works well in the context of the story and unimposingly. The third track flies at ears with a raw scrub of riffs and bass driven by rabid beats. With group vocals which works a treat the track at times reminds of early Shelter, its grazing breath veined by a contagious groove which simply entices the appetite further and without reserve. Another highlight of the release, the track provokes, incites, and thrills in equal urgency and strength.
The bruising sounds of Father God I Wonder excites and challenges senses next, the track recruiting the incendiary essences which grabbed attention within previous releases and loading them with a richer infectious bait and instinctive ferocity. It is one minute of prime punk rock which thrusts its sound and narrative irresistibly through ears into thoughts and emotions. Its triumph is matched by the riveting The Joy of Reconciliation. The song starts with that a capella offering mentioned before, a striking union of the band’s voices which works so well you almost throw a sigh of disappointment when the song erupts into its punk rapacity. It soon has those thoughts forgotten though as it squalls and stomps aggressively across the senses for another hunger feeding slab of punk passion.
The closing Ambassadors as the second track is a spoken word within a keys embrace, a conclusion to the narrative which also like the earlier song links in well when taken as part of the journey but for those without a feeling for the religious side of things you sense it may not get the chance too often to make its suasion in being the final track. It has to be reinforced though that as all their releases, The Old-timers presents an encounter which is for all punk fans, just this time it is the band at its most adventurous and dynamic sounding to date which is reason enough to spend plenty of time with Be Reconciled.
The Be Reconciled EP is available now through Thumper Punk Records and Veritas Vinyl as well as @ http://theold-timers.bandcamp.com/album/be-reconciled
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