Where do you go when you been everywhere and achieved everything?
Since their formation in 1979, the Brummie legends have toured the world, influenced manys a band (from Metallica to Death Strike, Bathory to Slayer, Nails and even The Almighty, let alone the various punk/hardcore scenes around the world) and put out records that define what is now referred to as “UK82” hardcore (if you don’t own ‘City Baby Attacked by Rats’ or ‘Midnight Madness and Beyond’, rectify that now).
Like their peers Discharge or The Exploited, they’ve adapted to the times.
Their initial burst of gritty, Motorhead style melodic hardcore punk slowly gave way to a more thrash influenced sound before returning to a more pure 77 style punk sound.
Unlike their peers, they’ve never dropped the ball. Even the sole average album (‘A Fridge Too Far’) still features at least five cracking songs.
So, realistically, there would be an awareness in the band that they’ve done it all, so the only thing left is to aim for is the craft, to be the best at what they do.
But with four LP’s in twenty years (with 2010’s ‘Perfume and Piss’ having a fractured gestation due to bassist Ross and guitarist Jock being unavailable during chunks of the writing process), there was a question mark of whether the band were more interested in live shows these days, regarding their recording career as being of secondary importance or, worst of all, past it.
Thankfully, all fears have been displaced, as ‘Momentum’ is a brilliant slab of punk rock.
Jock’s opening riff on ‘Birmingham Smiles’ is classic GBH (even down to the way Ross and drummer Scott fall in and out) and then goes into a choppy, galloping motif.
Maybe a beefier production would have moved it into more metallic territory, but it’s a great opener. Lyrically, Colin pays tribute to the city that birthed them (while also referencing a dentistry in Birmingham, Alabama).
‘Tripwire Strange’ has a drunken Oi sounding melody for an opener (almost haphazardly played by Jock) before mutating into a monstrous sounding alternative rock song. Would sound really good on KROQ in the summer time.
‘No News’ highlights just how much Scott Preece is a crucial element to the band. Formerly of underrated noise rockers Bomb Disneyland, he works his bass drum into overtime on this song. Colin’s sneering vocals and Ross’s bass throb further add to the thrill.
Going full staccato metal riffage on us, ‘Population Bomb’ also manages to throw a melody line that sounds like Magazine over the top of the main riff. Unusual, but highly effective. The best song on this album.
‘Fifty What’ is an endearing, life affirming rockabilly style song with lyrics sticking two fingers up at the eternal worship of youth and its fallacies. As an anthem celebrating nearly forty years of the band, it’s all too appropriate.
As you can tell, there’s little to no surprises or leftfield turns, musically speaking. Just straight ahead punk rock with little twists here and there. And with GBH, that’s all that’s needed.
Production wise, it’s clean enough to record each instrument in exquisite detail without overpowering each other, but still retains a bit of dirt for the more metal influenced moments that appear throughout.
Part of me would have liked the bass to have been a little more prominent in the mix, and the guitar sound to be chunkier, heavier. But those are personal preferences, not complaints.
Simply put, the lads are back with an excellent album, and will be touring to support it. Go and see them, shout along to the classic songs and go nuts when they play songs off this album. It might encourage them to make a new one sooner.
4.5 / 5 –Christopher Owens ::: 20/12/17