Review by Ollie Stygall.
The Caesars, the emperors of Rome, were by and large a pretty horrible lot. Venerated as gods they frequently abused their power to indulge their sexual and sadistic whims. So it begs a question, if a Caesar is mean, how much of an utter bastard must he really be?
Fortunately South London’s Mean Caesar are not a scary proposition. Fearsome, yes, but certainly something to be embraced in the punk scene. Mean Caesar have been an active gigging band since early 2018 but prior to that they spent two years holed up in the rehearsal space, honing their song writing and sound before hitting the ground running as a fully formed and functional outfit. This time spent and attention to their craft and presentation has clearly paid off in the first recorded fruits of their labours.
This 6 track, self-titled EP is a sharp collection of brash yet melodic punk rock that draws influence from Hot Water Music and the much beloved Leatherface. Each track is packed with more hooks than a fisherman’s tackle box and more drive than an episode of Top Gear, all capped off by vocalist Danny Lester’s impassioned, gruff bark. Vocally Lester will definitely draw comparisons to Chuck Ragan and Frankie Stubbs as he combines a rough gargle with a keen sense of melody.
Musically this is tight, focused punk rock fuelled by a dual guitar front in which Ollie Ward and David Littlefair weave lines around each other, mixing up driving rhythm parts with sharp lead lines and melodies. The combination adds a strong breadth to the songs, creating a scope of sound beyond three chord punk thrashing (not that there’s anything wrong with that at all) and emphasising the harmonic content already being offered by the vocals. Tempo wise there is nothing here that will leave a crowd standing round idle. This is foot down, speedy, but not leg-breakingly fast punk rock that hits the sweet spot between tapping your foot and jumping round at a gig like you’re in a room full of mouse traps.
Mean Caesar are, to all intents and purposes a new band but they certainly don’t sound like it by any stretch of the imagination. The level of attention to even the minutest detail in their sound and the quality of their song writing tells the tale of a band with far more under their belt than their lifespan as a band suggests.
From the extensive list of former bands on their Facebook page (46 Itchy, Atomic Newt Beaver, The Barrymores, Crystal Piss, Emanican, Fletch Cadillac, Great Cynics, Handsome Man, Her High Heels, Horse, It’s Not OK, Love In Hundreds, The Murderburgers, Myelin, O’ Messy Life, Pure Graft, Up In Arms, Visual Offence, Werecats and Writhe – phew!) it’s clear that these guys have all served their time and played the scene. Mean Caesar is the culmination of years of individual work and experience that has led them to something that has the potential to create a sizeable ripple in a fairly big punk rock pond.
Review by Ollie Stygall.