Monday, June 30, 2008

VICE SQUAD: Defiant @ VBR

The band's prevailing themes are still very much old school punk rock, revolving heavily around political rebellion and personal expression. This comes out right up front. The album opens up with the driving "Voice Of The People" and it's pointed line "Freedom of speech is against the law. Now we're all Criminals." It's quickly followed by the catchy "Britain Is Still Burning," which calls out the fact that even though punk rock may have made it into the mainstream, there is still a stronghold of "true punk rockers" that follow the rebellious ideas of the political side of punk rock. The music, however, is much tighter than in the old days. This latest incarnation of Vice Squad is tight, and while they flirt with metal riffs and guitar solos, there is never any way you would hear a song and think for a moment this was anything but a punk band. There are tons of great songs on this album. The melodic anthem, "Don't Let the B***ards Grind You Down" has all of the qualities of a true old school anthem, with all of its message and energy, paired with a chorus that will easily get a crowd pumping its collective fist. "Defiant" has a catchy riff that reminds me a bit of "Summertime Blues" for a moment, and then digs deep into an '80s-era punk hook and yet-another fist-pumping chorus.
And I'll take this moment to admit that when I saw this album had a song with the title "The Story Of My Life," I was mildly apprehensive at hearing yet another cover of the Social Distortion song. It's not that song. Instead, the song is a driving dark tune described by the band as "almost a Christmas song but without the goodwill". Indeed, it's a dark powerful tune, that offers a nice tempo change, and is then quickly followed up by the fast rocker "You Can't Do That," a song with a... questionable chorus... let's just say that one wonders if you're hearing a blatant four-letter word or simply Beki Bondage's accent. It's nice to hear that time hasn't mellowed Beki Bondage, but has made her a better singer teamed up with better musicians who can keep it together as they hammer out tight thrash riffs. While she occasionally sounds like more than a few different '80s icons, the band always lets you know this is old school British hardcore punk - played a lot better than many of the bands did it when they were first trying it.
--- From Ryan Cooper

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