I’m pleased that the detuned, scratchy and gnarled fist of bloody punk rock is slowly bursting back on to the scene. Bands like the volatile, southern-hardcore swagger of American Standards, the brash stagnant hate of Ex Wives and the party jam beer-backwash splash of En Garde are all making the ‘three chords and fuck off’ brigade look very promising at the moment. Step forward Black Years, a four-piece outfit from Chester, who seem keen to join the ranks or at least, tear through with their own brand of venom-infused sounds. There’s something incredibly engaging about Black Years, stretched over the three tracks on offer on this 7″ EP – they’re not afraid to mix up their sound, catering for all on this brief, yet memorable slab of punk rock wax.
Opening track Bourbon Legend, rages past with mic-swinging terror, raw-riffs slicing past with churning, wild abandonment. The roar of “no future, no hope!” from vocalist Rich is a scathing bite of gruff-street punk menace. This reminds me strongly of The Smoking Hearts; direct, blunt aggression channelled perfectly; switching from a thrashy speed attack, to a stamping head-banging strut. Second track, Lovers, sits on the melodic hardcore fence and utilises the clean/unclean vocal back and forth superbly. You can sense the eagerness and coiled energy in Black Years on Lovers – from the wild and unpredictable guitar solo, to the euphoric chorus and the crunching finish. The swaggering, bar room brawl shenanigans of Criminals feels like it’s fallen off a Every Time I Die record – cocky, brash and cheeky, it mixes gang-vocal chants and thick crunchy riffs that you can practically taste.
II is an impressive EP – Black Years have done their homework; they know what appeals and how to get the formula for hardcore rock’n roll down to a ramshackle and cocksure art. Great job.
You can purchase II through Footloose Records.