19 Feb 2020
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The Stungrenades - Album Review: Front Toward Enemy

28 Feb 2019 // A review by Peter-James Dries

Times have changed.

In a world where we can say the F word on television, and if used appropriately you can say shit whenever you want, punk doesn’t have the same shock value. You can’t piss off your parents with loud music, because that’s the music they grew up with and pine for. The new rebels are the Soundcloud mumble rappers. The stuff sane people can’t stand.

Does punk still have the power it had the first spin of the record? The ability to make the bourgeois squirm in their tight-whites? Frankly, no.

After the Industry’s mid-early 2000's appropriation of the genre, punk lost its power and became pop. Like when McDonalds took over Georgie Pie and started serving it their branded paper bags. Childhood nostalgia stopped tasting as savoury.

By selling rebellion as a product they made it part of a brand, part of the normal, and stripped it of the otherness that made it stand out and mean something. Like a Che Guevara t shirt.

The rebellion is dead.

But rebellion was only part of Punk, like the leather jackets and mohawks. Behind the motive was the music, and the music still holds up today. Despite what Stranger Things tells you, there was plenty of songs from the 80's that you wouldn’t touch today. But punk transcends time. For my generation at least. Take The Stungrenades.

Before I review 2017’s Class War: Fight Back! I thought I’d give 2015’s Front Toward Enemy a try. What they’re selling is punk. Old school punk. The Hey, Ho, Let’s Go stuff. Raw, dirty, power chord driven, beer fuelled, rock n roll, and they don’t need leather jackets to do it.

As the fairy tale goes, this is where punk started. With the disenfranchised working class taking arms against their corporate aggressors. From being pissed off, not as an attempt to piss off. Punk as a release. Times may have changed, for the better some say, but there’s still plenty to be pissed off about. Remember John Key was still the Prime Minister when this album was released. Maybe that’s what makes it timeless. As long as society is shaped by the rich, us at the bottom will always be left behind. Pushed down and covered over with newer, gentrified neighbourhoods, like Fitzroy and Bell Block.

Front Toward Enemy is a solid debut. No song over 3 minutes, check. Heavy use of the punk beat with intricate rolls, check. Blisters from frenetic chord changes, yup. Bass actually used as an instrument, not a way to blow dust off your car, surprisingly yes. Singer yelling as fast as they can, you got it. All punk, no bullshit.

The album eschews the garage recording aesthetic you’ve come to expect, which definitely makes listening easier on these Warehouse headphones, yet the music retains the energy you’d expect to see at a live show. And live is where you want to see these guys. Moshing in the crowd and releasing all the built up hate you accumulate after a week working for the man, while The Stungrenades stand on stage releasing theirs.

I think that’s part of the appeal of punk. Real punk, not that shit they pumped out on MTV. Punk like The Stungrenades are making. There’s no pretence. It’s not all an act. You can’t fake this kind of anger and make it believable. Sure Avril Lavigne, your life’s complicated… But why do you sound so happy about it.

Solid album, great songs true to the old style. 5 out of 5. Can't wait to listen to Class War: Fight Back!

You can find Front Toward Enemy on Bandcamp and Spotify.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About The Stungrenades

The Stungrenades are flash bang, not flash in the pan.

Born out desperation, fuelled by the promise that punk rock can be a threat again, it might be a sunny day, but work is sparse, wages are down and the bastards in power have declared class war!

The Stungrenades are an answer to a question that should be asked, How can pre-packaged rebellion take on the establishment? You won't see them in bondage pants and leather jackets, we are working class, at work they wear overalls or shorts and t-shirts for the builders among them.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for The Stungrenades

Releases

Class War: Fight Back!
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Front Toward Enemy
Year: 2015
Type: Album

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