EP Review: PI$$ER – Wretched Life

Written by Ollie Stygall.

Can such a thing as a super-group exist in punk rock? Probably not, but when you have a band consisting of past and present members of The Domestics, Doom, Anti-Cimex, Sore Throat, The Shitty Limits, Revenge Of the Psychotronic Man, Wolfhour, Bring The Drones, Hobopope & The Goldfish Cathedral, Lazarus Blackstar, Dissidents, Bugeyed, Dis-tank and The Filaments it’s hard to call it anything else. The difference is that most super-groups are a cynical cash-in on the members’ previous careers: in punk rock the super-groups exist to make more noise… and PI$$ER make an awesome noise.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a band featuring the near legendary Bri Doom (I’ve been a fan of this guy’s work for over 30 years) on guitar will have a strong D-Beat/Doom/Discharge vibe and that is definitely the case here. This EP offers up four tracks of raging hardcore, all under 3 minutes. It’s a fast, grinding wall of noise topped off with James Domestic’s guttural bark that isn’t a million miles away from Discharge’s Cal Morris or Doom’s Jon Pickering.

What really sets this off is the addition of saxophone by Eddie O’Toole. Not an instrument traditionally associated with hardcore punk, the use of saxophone may raise some eyebrows but hold onto those preconceptions. Park them and give it a go.

The use of sax here serves to highlight the inherent melodicism that has always existed in D-Beat and make it – dare I say it – catchy! When you’re playing music that relies on simplistic, minimal chord patters there is an inevitable sense of melody that is unfettered by complexity but often drowned under distortion and speed. The saxophone here picks out the melodies and highlights them, as well as adding extra harmonic touches via brief solos. It’s a genius move that adds something fresh and exciting to a 40 year old formula.

That’s not to say that the saxophone is the sole highlight here, it would mean nothing if this release wasn’t packed from start to finish with strong memorable riffs and a vicious vocal performance full of conviction and bile.

Naturally, given Bri’s long career as an engineer and producer, the sound here is magnificent: full and fat, chaotic yet clear, creating a sense of density but allowing the subtleties to shine through.

Over 30 years into a life listening to punk rock, and over 30 years since I first heard Discharge and had my teenage balls blown off, it’s heart-warming and refreshing to hear a band working within that framework and breathing something new into it. It’s bands like PI$$ER that keep me firmly rooted in punk and show that there is life in the old dog yet.

PI$$ER’s debut EP Wretched Life was released on Friday 12 July via TNSrecords, Kibou Records and Sick World Records. Available on 7” vinyl only, it’s already sold out, however Shout Louder’s has heard rumours that there’s a new one due hot on its heels. This super group don’t intend to play live, but they’ve made a hell of a record – get it in your ears.

Written by Ollie Stygall.

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