Initially I was skeptical about a new Subhumans release. I'd seen them on tour since their latter-day reunion and was suitably impressed but I was unsure how the whole Culture Shock/Citizen Fish aftermath would change the style. I now admit, I must hang my head in shame for doubting that the Subhumans would come charging out with this brilliant release.
From the outset its noticeably much better produced than anything they've ever done before. There is clarity in the double-pedal drumming madness, rhythm where before there was rage and still the same socio-political lyrics as always. There is a bit of a divergence from older releases at the same time. The better production and sharper music skills make it a slice of slick punk-rock rather than duller and slower releases. At 40 minutes (including the marathon of the "Never-ending war song" - something to challenge the legendary "Cradle to the Grave") and a bit, its well worth every penny you throw at Bluurg.
As for the songs themselves. Theres plenty to choose from. There's the more basic assaults of "Internal Riot", "This is not an Advert" and "Won't Ask You Again." Whilst being nothing special (for the Subhumans, which means they're still well played and catchy as hell) they carry the album well and couldn't be classified as "Killer" or "Filler." Then we come to the rest. There's the superb opener of "This Years' War" with the best set of lyrics I've seen from the Subs since "Labels." I caught a glimpse of it initially on the Live DVD but the song is fantastic. The middle tracks "Process" and "Culture" addicts add some driving punk-rock depth to the album that doesn't verge into the ska territory held by lookalikes Citizen Fish whilst "Never-ending war Song" pummels superb tunes to the backing of mouthy vocals and a potent message. Then we come to the absolutely-must-listen-to-ultra-fast-savage-all-out-assault of Mosquitoes. Its an ultra-paced manic song that when played live turned the gig into a sea of spilled cider and sprawling bodies. Words cannot describe how punk-tastic it is!
Is it a great album? Yes. Is it a great Subhumans album? Absolutely. The superior production is definitely a positive, the ability to sustain a definite "Subhumans sound" makes old and new fans happy alike whilst the political content please me immensely! Rather than fretting about whether they can pull it off in future I hope they keep up the work and put out another Album! Words Apart? It'd say not anymore, time flies but the Subhumans certainly don't crash. Stunning.
Instant classic! Having been a keen fan since 1983, I can safely say this is as good, if not better, than anything the Subhumans have ever released. The last thing I was expecting was a new album from these guys, and the best thing is they've only gotten better. I cannot say the same thing for any other punk band in the history of the genre. They have not sold out, they kept hold of their integrity and the messages are still as valid as ever. Production-wise this album is top notch. Powerful, direct, completely free of BS, and as catchy as anything you can think of. It's addictive stuff!
Some of you will be familiar with the opening track "This Years War" from their live LP "Live in a Dive" (2004). The studio version is just great. The rest of the material is all brand new, and there isn't a bad track in sight. A stand-out track for me is "Process". There's also a couple of Nirvana-like riffs, most notably track #10, "Sedated". Listen to the intro and you half expect Kurt Cobain to start singing after a few bars. As odd as that seems, this really works well. Great song.
A minor gripe is that this album is fairly short at just under 42 minutes. If it wasn't so good I wouldn't mind, but it makes you want more! Not a bad thing, really, at least it keeps me pressing that "PLAY" button for another blast.
Thanks to Dick Lucas for speaking some much needed sense. His lyric writing skills are as sharp as ever and the messages address some very important issues without sounding preachy. This guy has such a great brain.
BUY THIS ALBUM. If you are new to the band, this is where you should start. After that, get Worlds Apart or From the Cradle to the Grave (an absolute classic, especially the 16+ minute epic title track), but bear in mind that the band are currently remastering the early albums, so you might want to wait for those. The originals were always a little thin and malnourished sounding, but bear in mind they were originally mixed for vinyl and not the CD format. I can't wait.
In my opinion, the Subhumans are the only punk band that matters now, although in some ways they transcend punk and can appeal to people who wouldn't normally dig the genre. Hey, I'm mainly into jazz/rock fusion, being a musician myself I appreciate the technical stuff, but the Subs are in a league of their own.
Overall, this is a great comeback. My only hope is they carry on making music because if they don't they will be sorely missed.
This is a great comeback album, with singer Dick Lucas' usual lyrical wit and style that has run through all of his bands (Subhumans, Culture Shock and Citizen Fish), and it's good to see them clearly still so relevant right into 2007.
Their back catalogue is still (mostly) as relevant as ever too, and still well worth picking up for anyone with even a passing interest in punk old or new, and totally essential for anyone into protest-punk, anarcho etc, in fact they're right up there with the likes of Crass, Conflict, Zounds and Flux Of Pink Indians.
My only criticism of this album is that, as good as it is, Lucas' vocal tunes seem to revert to the same direction Citizen Fish were going in with their last full album (2001's "Life Size"), and when you really listen, the overall sound is arguably closer that than the Subhumans of old. It's also just a little too cheerfully delivered (again, similar to Citizen Fish) than the more angry, venomous, snotty sound Subhumans had. That's partly due to a 21 year gap between their last album and this one of course, but it means that, for me at least, there's just a little something not QUITE Subhumans about the new Subhumans record.
Okay, i'll admit that i'm new to the Subhumans (although my first experience of their music was hearing it played at distortion levels on a small ghetto blaster at a 'Traveller encampment' in '85), my first proper encounter was only last year when the reformed group played at a nearby venue: That one gig had me hooked. They were still touring this album, and i was totally gobsmacked at how 'tight' the band play; everything happens when it should, and the guys all do their jobs with seemingly effortless ease, giving a superb show. This album reflects that level of profesionalism perfectly: The production is spot on, with every band member's input crystal clear and in perfect sync with the others'. This is punk with a capital 'P', and they've got a serious agenda that is never compromised, ever. Stand aside Green Day, stand aside NoFX and all that Amerikan pseudo-punk that we're forced to endure, this is the real thing and it grabs you by the bo****ks, shakes you like a rag doll and doesn't let go until the end of 'Mosquitos'. Buy this album!
This is the Subhumans at their best. And had it been released in the 80's it would stand as their classic. However it's always difficult 20 years later to know what relevance they got now with a new 2007 album, but 'Internal Riot' is punk at it's best and fans of the subhumans past and preset should really enjoy this at a time where punk more than ever have become just another sort of entertainment. Subhumans still deliver inspiring (anarcho)punk with sharp penned lyrics and at the moment I can see no other bands delivering the true spirit of punk in such way. Buy it, support the band and you're doing yourself a favour at the same time!