As a year rapidly draws towards its festive close and best of lists are being considered there is always a few gate crashers to make you think again. One sure to make the biggest noise demanding consideration is the new album from UK outfit Oxygen Thief. Unleashing eleven instinctive roars which simply command greedy attention, Confusion Species is the third album from the Bristol based band and one of the year’s most essential, voracious rock ‘n’ roll releases.
Imagining harnessing the core essence and ingenuity of Reuben, Therapy?, and Max Raptor, then mixing them with a catalyst which breeds and evolves a whole new and unique intoxication and you get a good idea of the rousing holler that is Confusion Species. It is that originality amidst openly imaginative writing and craft which ensures the album simply invites attention and we for one did not need asking twice; one listen enough to be hooked on one of 2018’s most exciting moments.
Lyrically bred and embroiled in the life entangling social and political issues of today, Confusion Species uncages its heart driven blast from its first breath, opener End Of The Pier Pressure instantly and forcibly strolling in with muscle and confrontational intent. Yet there is a devilish imagination to its purpose, ebbs and flows of intensity accentuating the drama which fuels every note let alone twist and turn. The vocals of guitarist and band founder Barry Dolan are pure magnetism, his words accentuating the lure which is echoed in the throaty trespass of Neil Elliott’s bass and the hefty swings of drummer Ben Whyntie.
The track is superb and quickly matched in strength and captivation by Atheist Dior, a song which challenges as it incites; its attack a nagging persistence built on a web of hooks and grooves and ridden by just as rousing vocals alongside a bassline as cantankerous as it is tempting.
The following Uncommon People looms on ears with a metal hued trespass, its prowl a heavy invasion easily devoured as too it’s blossoming visceral tango of wiry sounds and emotive intimation. Earlier mentioned Rueben comes to mind often across Confusion Species, this track especially prompting that reference before the punkier pop rock of Troublethink pounced and ingrained itself on senses and passions with defiance as raw energy fuels its creative animation.
The following pair of Suspension Bridge Of Disbelief and Rubbish Life Is Modern simply escalated the impressive start and lure of the album so far; the first a punchy slice of punk ’n’ roll swinging with uncompromising intent springing hooks which dig deep and riffs which worm under the skin with ease, especially the dirty lures escaping the bass. Its successor shows a more composed attack though the intensity and dynamics of its predecessors are just as eager to infest another compelling moment with post punk echoes adding to its masterful persuasion.
Both I Used To Be Elephants with its stalking riffs and irresistible vocal grooving and Lost In The Post, a track with more insatiable lures than a red light district, enthral, excite and examine body and energy with their individual manipulations. Each also highlights the great backing vocals and harmonies which collude with Dolan’s very fine lead as well as the melodic prowess behind the heavy roars of songs across the release; a tapestry exploited in great style once more within Graffiti; Irony; Lists. The bordering on carnivorous track teases with raw guitar caresses initially; lures soon joined by the earthy strains of a brooding bass and Whyntie’s ever dynamic swings as things gather to hungrily grab ears and imagination.
The album concludes with firstly You Snooze You Lose, a rebellion of sound, texture and word which left ears impatient for plenty more, and finally Practice Makes Perspex. The last track is a maze of enterprise; every way you turn ears confronted by a kinetic eddy of sonic and rhythmic dexterity slightly crazed and just a touch anxious and completely irresistible.
Those last two words sums up Confusion Species perfectly if without sharing all of the magnificence making up its whole. From start to finish it is musical alchemy, so much so that we could not choose a favourite track; all seizing the honour. So if there is one release you simply must explore between now and any deadline you wish to choose, Oxygen Thief have it ready and waiting to devour you and for you to devour.
Confusion Species is out now via Xtra Mile Recordings; available @ https://oxygenthief.bandcamp.com/album/confusion-species-2
Pete RingMaster 30/11/2018
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