Thanks, a band whose influences are primarily punk-rock and a general hatred of society, come at us with this loud and abrasive album, priding themselves on the amount of pure rage they can fit in a recording studio. Thoughtless Cruelty is an album for all the misanthropes and sceptics of modern culture and where it’s headed. Whether they’re ‘rebels without a cause’ or not is another matter, but in the tradition of all good punk music, it’s certainly reacting to something, and they do so hard and loud enough to be heard by all.
Opening track From Heaven is a perfect example of what they’re about. Clocking in at over five minutes, it’s just enough time to give their raw and unruly brand of punk-metal the climax it deserves. Starting with a lone austere drum machine, a down in the depths riff rips its way through the lower register with a similar ‘foot-dragging’ drawl that the vocals quickly adopt. Anti-establishment lyrics serve the music ever-onwards, bringing down the egos of any who think themselves above this monstrous sound world they create.
Slightly out of tune vocals in the chorus and feedback-heavy textures only go towards furthering their anti-society dynamic, cherishing a rugged, slightly amateurish appeal in doing so. Often using only vocals and a stark bass texture, it feels like some improvised musical performance at a church fete at times, but the weight of the performers soon fills the void.
And as for the vocals; if you’re gonna have music that’s about hating everything around you, you gotta have a good frontman to say it. Having a mixture of Johnny Rotten’s gleeful rage and Mark E. Smith’s sardonic drool, the singing matches the angry and spiteful lyrics, picking apart social values with an incisive, ironic wit.
The lyrics to A Social Contract feel like some sort of punk-rock nursery rhyme. Keeping the message short and simple, they observe the legal ramifications of breaching “a social contract“, with societies’ teachings leading him to become the “simpleton“ he is today. There’s a certain skewered logic to this faux-acceptance at societies’ expense, aiding a certain surreal attitude to life, with lyrics that could only ever be half-serious to start with.
Dread plays on chirpy British optimism (stiff upper lip etc) with its playful imagery about sausages and “dogs … going mad last night” as if finding its way out of a children’s storybook. The sarcastic “but let’s look on the bright side“ keeps it ironic, never getting so angry that they take themselves seriously.
The vocals have a similar sullen leer to Mark E. Smith, with songs like No Funeral taking their time with the words, letting each drip out with stifled self-satisfaction, allowing the listener to wait on every syllable. There’s something towards the mixture of heavy animalism and child-like instruments, such as the chiming instrument that opens No Funeral, as if in some unnerving horror movie; danger being where it seems too sweet to be true.
They’ve got a lot to say and music was obviously the nearest thing to hand at the time. If you wish punk a happy return, and maybe even a bit of flirtation with heavy-metal forces (as well as even angrier people singing it this time around), this might be for you. A lot of strong stuff from this band, and we can only hope for even stronger to come.