Review by Ollie Stygall.
When I was a lad growing up in the 80’s, and my mates and I were dipping our toes into the murky world of punk/hardcore/metal, it became a familiar cry of parents to denounce our listening as noise, often telling us it all sounded the same and that it was rubbish… Not my dad, I hasten to add; he introduced me to loads of great rock and roll and always took time to listen to and try to appreciate what I was listening to!
Now I’m a parent and how things have changed. I find myself listening to the stuff my kids like and thinking where is the fire? Where is the anger? Where is the noise? Thanks to the 90’s tide of boy/girl bands and programmes such as the X Factor, music has become now, more than ever, a commodity. Something to fill the space left by silence and thinking in the brain. It is heartwarming to see, in that case, that some of the values I’ve held true for 30 odd years still exist in the underground and that there are bands that reflect this.
This Is Not A Drill don’t give much info about themselves away in their online presence; no names, influences, etc. They appear, to all intents and purposes, to be a band that exists to play and put across their message… and I like that. There are three of them, they’re from Sheffield, and they have previously served in Chewed Up, Brain Freeze and Trioxin Cherry: this much I can tell you. Another thing I can tell you is that these guys don’t mess about. Their sound is a fiery, brutal metallic hardcore assault with no frills and maximum impact.
There are eight tracks on this record and it lands around the 13 minute mark. Like I said, they don’t mess about! Each track is a furious blast of spiteful, razor sharp guitars, scuzzy bass and head-down-to-the-finish, caffeine-fuelled drumming that evokes the crossover movement of the 80’s. It is reminiscent of bands such as The Accused, D.R.I and early C.O.C mixed with a touch of Discharge’s relentless wall of noise, some old school UKHC such as Concrete Sox, Extreme Noise Terror and Doom (the band, not the joy-killing musical genre), a smidgeon of Exploited-style Oi and a nod to more recent practitioners of the craft such as Iron Reagan.
None of this is to say that they are a one trick pony. There is enough of a dynamic range in each song and changes of pace from full-on blasting to breakdowns that border on being, dare I say it, groovy! The production here perfectly suits the music and attitude. It is sharp, visceral and aggressive with the guitars pushed to the fore, the drums providing a hefty momentum and the bass doing a fine impression of Rainy’s buzzsaw tone from Discharge. The voices sit back in the mix, which is just as well as it allows the vocalists to really vent their spleen and shred their throats!
It would be doing the band a disservice not to mention their political stance. Much like the UKHC movement of the late 80’s, This Is Not A Drill maintain a firm and unashamed political viewpoint that is backed up with a strong moral code and social conscience. This is no more evident than on We Do Not, And Never Will Support Rape Culture And Rape Apologists In The Punk Scene And Society As A Whole. Its is a wordy title that isn’t designed to be clever, but instead to put their ideas admirably front and centre without room for argument. Similarly Deviants works by lampooning Christian purity and thereby hypocrisy in a cutting fashion. By appropriating the very recognisable Crass circle/stencil format for their artwork they have also given a fixed, visual representation of their political stance. It’s a clever move.
When people ask me what punk is there are many answers I could give… It’s loud, fast music, it’s an attitude, it’s a political stance, it’s an ideology, it’s a way of life… In many respects, after hearing this band I could just say that punk is This Is Not A Drill. They sum up both the musical style and attitude that attracted me to punk over 30 years ago and for that I thank them.
You can download Hysteria / Hypocrisy / Lie for pay-what-you-want over at This Is Not A Drill’s Bandcamp page. You can also pick up a copy (on cassette as well as the obvious formats!) by contacting the band or catching up with them in person. Keep and eye on their Facebook for new about their exciting live shows.
Review by Ollie Stygall.