Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Concrete Sox "Silence" Ep, 1997

It's been more than two weeks since the last post and I won't probably be able to post much in the next couple of weeks either, with summer being the time for boozing outdoors rather than being all nerdy behind a computer screen. But then, I might also be summoned by the unholy god of punk geeks and wake up in the middle of night, instructed to rant over some obscure songs no one really cares about. So who knows? I'm a man on a mission after all.

I already posted an Ep from the mighty Sox a while ago, a live recording from the late 80's that saw the band at the apex of their power in that decade. Although the band's best work remains arguably "Sewerside", it should not be forgotten that the Notts band kept playing and releasing good records in the 90's. "No world order" is a solid album despite a couple of fillers and "Silence", the Ep we are dealing with today, can be seen, in the light of the 90's British hardcore-punk wave, as a potent punk record too.

For some reason, "Silence" seems to be one of the lesser-known records by Concrete Sox. Indeed, it is not even mentioned in the band's chapter in "Trapped in a scene". I am guessing that they were no longer playing many gigs by 1997, though the internet mentions that they did some dates in the UK around 1997 and 1998. In any case, the line-up playing on this Ep did not last long and it is the only Sox record in which Les (usually on bass) does the vocals. In fact, by 1999, the only remaining member of this line-up would be Mark on guitar. The fact that it was recorded by a brief line-up that did not really play live at the time could be the reason why "Silence" is not often mentioned or even known. Although certainly not a crucial record in the band's history, "Silence" remains a solid effort and exemplifies what hardcore-punk sounded like at the time in the UK. It is hard-hitting, heavy and fast, and unpretentious. The bass is upfront and has a beefy distorted sound, the guitar parts demonstrate how metal-punk should be played, the drummer does a fine job in the "powerful pummelling" section and the vocals are aggressive and snotty, with heavy nods to classic mid/late 80's metallic punk. There are of course elements of the vintage Concrete Sox sound but I'd say that it is more relevant to listen to this record as a piece of the more global 90's DIY punk sound that prevailed at the time, with bands like Spite, Substandard or, even more so actually, 90's-era Final Conflict on the other side of the pond.

Lyrically, the three songs are pretty interesting too with "Silence" being about apathy and the relief one may find in TV or drinking; "Meat you maker" being about the meat industry and the symbolism that surrounds the consumption of meat; and finally "Hitler was a Jew", that was apparently written by a Polish Jew and is a song against prejudices and racism. The Ep was released on Blind Destruction Records, a still active label based in sunny Bristol and run by a bloke from Spite that also put out records of the Restarts, In The Shit, Spite (obviously) or more recently Bring to Ruin and Poundaflesh.


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