A horrible hack

Urban Savage

Let Thunder Roar

Year Released: 2014
Format: LP
Label: Savage
Reviewed by Alex Hannan on Aug 20, 2016
I spilled red wine all over URBAN SAVAGE's lyric sheet and the nice letter they sent with the LP, fortunately the record itself was spared. And I must have heard them from outside (sorry folks) at K-town Hardcore Fest 2015, early on the Sunday, at which time I was drinking peppermint schnapps to try to stave off the fatigue of the sleepless night before. As I sit down to the task of reviewing their debut full length, I feel a beer would suit the reviewing process better than those fancier beverages. Psssscht, schlurp, aah, here we go.

URBAN SAVAGE are from Malmö, Sweden, just across the bridge from Copenhagen, and have the flavour of a more oi! influenced brother band to K-town groups like NO HOPE FOR THE KIDS or THE WAR GOES ON, thanks to a similar line in foursquare, raucous, catchy songs with a melancholy current. They sing about living in a sick society and looking to a better future in which people will rise up and take to the streets. They sing about staying strong, about raising a glass to absent friends. Their accompanying letter says "People tend to put us in the oi! category all the time but that's not our problem, we're just another punk band." These lyrics ally them closely with working class pride and struggle even as the music points away from COCKNEY REJECTS towards something like the modern oi/punk hybrid of CRIMINAL DAMAGE.

The opening songs set things on a promising course, sandpapery rasp, rapid downstrokes and economical melody, quite neat and clean-sounding despite the fuzz. The odd bit of decoration sneaks in, like the chorused guitars in "Minimum wage / maximum slave." I expect "When the day comes" is the song that brings the ruckus live, neat bass parts and driving rhythms, a real highlight of side 1. Elsewhere on this side "Those who go and those who stay" is catchy but owes a lot to "Teenage kicks," and final song "Wolves" gets bogged down a little when the tempo dips. The vocals can be a touch stiff, but have good timbre and are feisty where it matters.

The lyrics sizzle with anthemic anger at a series of "thems" and "theys" - politicians / the wealthy / tyrants / bosses - but prioritise singalongability over nuance. Sometimes they lean toward the generic, like "Wasted time" and "Fight to win-fight to lose." I'm not crazy about the comparison of low paid work with actual slavery in "Minimum wage / maximum slave." URBAN SAVAGE show more individuality in "I got nothing to say", advice for a soundbite to give when arrested, and in the quotations from the Hávamál, an Old Norse poem.

The second side has a number of solid songs of which "No cure for a sick society" is probably the pick. URBAN SAVAGE end with two slower numbers, but this time they keep the interest going to the end - "Let thunder roar" is a strong note to finish on. Overall, a concise, punchy album with some mixtape-worthy highlights. Skål!

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