Indeed, we garnered tickets to see ENT’s benefit gig for Adrian “Covan” Kowanek earlier this year, but a last-minute spot of extreme plumbing terror somewhat ludicrously prevented us from showing up. Which makes it over a decade since the last time we witnessed this mighty oak of a band in the flesh: their wonderful, unexpectedly moving turn at the Highbury Garage, in the wake of their mentor John Peel’s death.
Now, a good seven years from their last album, and nine years after their should-be-legendary split with Driller Killer, ENT have decided that 30 years in showbusiness heralds the moment for them to finally issue an eponymous long-player. This turns out to be ruthlessly logical, as there is a real sense that the wheel has turned full circle with this record. “Extreme Noise Terror” sees them return resolutely to their crust-punk roots, happily recycling riffs that many of us oldies have known and loved since we were sneaking a quick listen on the Walkman whilst shuffling between classrooms with our homework books. The fact that the sadly departed Phil Vane, to whom the record is dedicated, still gets some songwriting credits also suggests that some of these tunes as are a few years old now (he passed away in 2011).
What we have, then, is 13 tracks of unruly, agriculturally rudimentary, punchdrunk Suffolk punk, all topped off in inimitable style with ENT’s renowned and um, spirited dual-vocal attack. Lyric-wise, we’re still looking at relatively familiar topics: media hegemony (“Think Outside The Box”), (ir)religious indoctrination (“Dogma, Intolerance, Control”), the pointlessness of all our existences (“An Endless Cycle of Misery“), terrorist mass murder (“No One Is Innocent”), self-appointed keyboard warriors (“Punk Patrol”) and a timely and effective excoriation of bands reforming for cash (“Last Fix Of Fame”).
So what if some of their contemporaries – fellow Ipswicher Tommy Stupid, or their own sometime drummer Mick Harris – went on to experiment with, or reinvent techno, dubstep or bass music instead? So what if ENT themselves once ‘branched out’ with the severer metallic leanings of “Damage 381” or “Being And Nothing”? With this LP of manic punk thrills, Dean Jones and co go proudly back to basics, and that’s absolutely tickety-boo with us. Despite some er, variable production values the sincerity, energy and occasional farmyard impression make it all work. Darlings, what you have is enough.
Oh, there are still lipstick traces of grindcore – for example amidst the tongue-in-cheek thrills of closer “Only In It For The Music (Part 27)” – but the truth is that ENT were never really grindcore, just a steaming blur of thrashy crust-punk that moved so fast that you sometimes couldn’t tell it apart from grind. This record may remind you at times of Phobia, or “Scum”-era ND, or even Doom, but most of the time it will remind you, rigorously, repeatedly and gloriously, of Extreme Noise Terror.
Yes, I think we’re starting to feel festive now. Carry on screaming.