This is something of a bitter sweet review because, along with the release of this their third album, Death Pedals have also announced that they are calling in a day. It is always a sad moment when a band you really like decide to finish, and doubly so somehow when you never got to see them live, I sadly can’t get down to either Newport or London for their last ever shows in February 2018. I only really got into the band last year with the release of their excellent, and long sold out, 2016 release ‘Meat House‘.
But before I fall into any sort of gloom over this I have to say that Death Pedals are going out with a bang. I guess there can be something quite liberating about going into the studio and recording an album that you know is going to be your last, and it certainly feels like it here. If ‘Meat House’ saw the band deliver a superior slab of noise punk, then they have really pushed the envelope with this album which is both immediate and continues to grow on you with every listen. What I particularly like about it as a gnarled old punk who has frequently lost interest in what ironically can be a very conservative genre… I once saw Jello Biafra in the 1990s reminding an audience that “it wasn’t 1977 any more”… is that this takes the idea of punk by the scruff of the neck and gives it a fucking good shake.
It may be that you like your punk in a particular way which your comfortable with, and that’s fine, but I like mine to be fresh and exciting; and this is what you get in spades here. There is something quite visceral about this album. It feels very ‘live’ and very spontaneous, Death Pedals apparently went into the studio with four ideas for songs but vowed to release whatever came out of their sessions at Giant Wafer in Wales…. they came out with a ten track album of very consistent high quality.
All the tracks on here have their own feel, and I hope you get the message from what I have said so far that this is not a straight ‘punk’ album because there is a lot more going on here. As well as having the spirit of punk there are also much more broader influences on display here with the likes of Shellac, Slint and PiL being amongst those who came to mind while I was writing this. From opener ‘Endless Terrain’ the band don’t really provide any respite to the frontal assault on your senses with its massive bass line and relentlessly pounding drums, while ‘USD’ keeps up the pressure with high intensity guitar that grabs you by the cerebral cortex and won’t let go.
Elsewhere ‘Shower of Shit’, while being a ‘slower’ number, has a vocal intensity that you will find with the likes of contemporaries ‘Grey Hairs’ or ‘GNOD’ that leaves you feeling drained… but is followed up with ‘Dr Tom’ which releases all the pent up aggression of it’s predecessor.
However, regular readers will know that I’m a sucker for a long track, and the seven minute ‘You’re A Fake’ really delivers for me. It shows that the band can also stretch out their ideas and somehow provides a fitting finale for the Death Pedals’ music with the bile of the vocals and the vibrancy of the music combining in an irresistible way during the first half of the track. It’s one of those that keeps building up to a climax delivering a brilliant ride and then seeming to hit another level around half way through. This is a track that’s musically about the journey rather than the destination as it fades out into some sort of electronic vortex towards the end. The end for the band, but with something left behind to remind us of what they were.
This is an album that I just want to keep on playing. It makes me happy in a very cathartic way. It helps me shed aggression and it also somehow feeds me with it’s intelligent arrangements. It reminds me that noise does not equal stupid, but quite the opposite. Most of all, though, it will remind me that Death Pedals were a bloody good band and the visceral feel of this release will both mitigate and intensify my disappointment of never getting round to seeing them live. Cheers!