Violent Arrest “Life Inside The Western Bloc” (Boss Tuneage)

The latest instalment of Violent Arrest’s glorious, spirit of punk-infused war on indigence sees them regroup with a new singer, but retaining the same aggression and purpose that has been a hallmark of their output since they somewhat exploded onto our record decks seven or eight years ago.

On new LP “Life Inside The Western Bloc”, VA hit their thrilling best when they up the tempo and mine the hardcore seam: witness the Ripcord-like sparks that fly with the musically bolshier, shorter tracks like “The Game Is Rigged”, “Deposit No Return” or the ripping title track, which spins out ferociously from an old-school anti-MNC sample and the obligatory shot of feedback. Shout outs to “Our Dearly Deported” too, not least for the pun skills. There’s perhaps a little more discipline on display than has always been apparent, as the band inch back from the high-water mark / nadir (depending on your POV) of 2011’s somewhat unsubtle “Fuck Off”. Martin Nichols (yep, of “Laurel” fame) is again at the controls, and there’s no question he’s mastered this genre now.

However, when the band drop the pace and draw things out too much, their wares can start to seem more generic: despite more promising title wordplay, the comparatively aimless “Mission: Creep” feels like the sort of thing Ripcord would have thrown to the wolves, rather than put on an album. The proof of our theory – that less is more from VA – may be that the late reprise of “Cold Front”, one quarter of the main song’s length, is far fresher and about 1,000x better.

That said, most of the tunes here are greatly enjoyable. In particular, the dependably old-school and extremely catchy “Grind You Down” cheers me up every time I listen to it on the way home from the office, cursing the boss under my breath but really, secretly wanting to HOLLER the (moderately sweary) chorus all the way up the main drag. And, as is abundantly clear from the lyrics on the album, Violent Arrest’s big, big heart remains resolutely in the right place. We would, I fear, be a little lost without them.


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