Deadlamb Records seems to have been
lurking in the background for some time, with a steady output of Irish
and international punk product including Nomatrix, Jobseekers,
Disturbance, Greenland Whalefishers, Plan Of Attack (and others) going
back to the middle of the last decade.
This isn’t the first compilation the Athlone based label has issued –
Some strange obsession with quadrupedal flocks and ruminant mammals
inspired the nomenclature of LAMBINATION, a series of 4 CDs that
restrained itself until the 4th volume where it fell into the familiar
trapping of clogging up a disc with 48 bands just because the space is
available – Value for money, certainly – A complete headache to get
through, definitely. And this isn’t a criticism focused on Deadlamb
Records – It’s a criticism of an era of punk compilations we all owned,
rarely listened to and mostly can’t even name. They’re in boxes now or
we don’t even know if we still own them, or whether they survived that
CD purge when we moved house… or the purge after that…
LAMBPAIGN – IRELAND, much like the KARATE KLUB compilation released
several months back, benefits from being a vinyl release. Far from
simply being format fetish, it’s a different though process. With
limited space comes quality control, and with quality control comes a
superior end result. This record features 12 tracks by 12 Irish punk
bands, an acceptable and digestible quantity for any compilation.
The noise kicks off with the wonderfully frenzied hardcore punk of
“Welcome to the Toybox” by THE NILZ, one of 5 previously unreleased
tracks. Brooding, sick and irreverent, this band could never be accused
of kowtowing to the prevailing flatulence of nu-morality or hashtag
piety. Scatalogik recommends revisiting their second EP in particular.
“Majority Rule” by AUDIBLE JOES from Cork is finely crafted and anthemic,
with great vocals and the sort of guitar leads/big choruses that a
certain long standing German punk band has employed, flogged and wrung
throughout its existence. Another exclusive to this compilation,
JOBSEEKERS formula on “Spit” is fast and raw. Lyrically, it’s straight
up unapologetic dogma with lots of you’s… add more metal sounding
guitars we’d basically be listening to late 80’s NYHC.
Dundalk’s THE GAKK treads a traditional punk rock path on the primal and
determined “One By One”, with very much a 20th century political lyric.
I’ve yet to hear their debut album released last year so I’m not
entirely familiar with the band’s broader sound. THE JOLLARS from Cork
stomp through the catchy rudiments of “Rebel Boot Boys”. But while
there’s a definite art in striving to perfect the skinhead anthem, the
repeated trappings of self-referential lyrics render most of it tired
and hackneyed. There’s a good reason why the farce bands in this
subgenre do it best. “Ghosts along The Gangland” by UNITED BOTTLES (from
their debut album) suffers no such trappings. Rooted in traditional
street music, this has undeniable swagger and confidence. One minor
quibble is that the only lyric provided is the chorus… otherwise superb!
GRIT opens side B of the record with “Stray Bullets” from the debut 7”
(and Ghost Estates demo). This is driving, punchy, melodic punk with
discourses on the ugliness behind the fun and frolics of drug culture.
Interestingly, GRIT is the sole crossover between this and the 2018
Karate Klub compilation. The longest running band on here, Athlone’s
NOMATRIX has been kicking around on and off (at least) since the
un-legendary Knockrockstock at Batty O’ Brien’s. “Struggle with
Momentum” is fast, snotty and short with various strains of skate trash
and early SoCal punk influence. Members of this band also run the label
responsible for the existence of this record.
“Deaf, Dumb and Drunk” by THE TURN is the runt of the litter production
wise. The band’s concoction of nihilistic/fatalistic lyrics over
spirited and barbed hardcore punk is similar to THE NILZ, but
unfortunately coated in audio mud. One might argue that there’s little
excuse for committing something so comparatively lo-fi to vinyl, given
that a more presentable recording can be made in a mildew-ridden shed,
but for the sake of representation, we’ll let it pass. The audio
proceedings take a guttural turn with the filthpunk of DEATHGRIP.
Call-and-response cookie monster and teen-strain vocals over elementary
hardcore inhabit “Slave Rinse Repeat”. As an isolated track, it has its
charms but I don’t want to hear a whole album of this any time soon.
…Next is a moment of pause and reflection… “due to a manufacturing
error”, there is about 30 seconds of silence before the next band (The
Circle Jerks set a precedent for this on GROUP SEX to extend the
apparent running length of the record, so it can be declared a
recognised and sanctioned practice rather than a mastering fuck-up!)…
After our little break, THE DIVILS roll out a sort of hybrid punk
pathetique, pot-boiled with breakneck guitars and capable melodic ska
inspired chops. “Do Something Positive” is a fusion of modern street
balladry, punk attitude and an indecipherable auld one selling bananas
on Moore Street giving out about something. SHITHÄTT closes the album
with “Both (Bad-On-The-Hash)”. Although there’s a lot of lyrical content
present, it’s stylised and the whole thing comes across like the sort of
instrumental filler often thrown at the end of an album. With better
production it might have been something very different and more
interesting. It’s not wildly exciting in it’s current state.
As with any short and judiciously curated collection, LAMBPAIGN –
IRELAND is documentary evidence of a thriving countrywide subculture,
sporadically pockmarked across the landscape as it may be. While such a
collection could as easily be made up entirely of bands based in the
capital, this represents howls of dissent from Dublin, Cork, Belfast,
Limerick, Athlone and wherever the hell GRIT can all agree they’re from.
This limited edition of 300 copies is pressed in marbled Black, Green
and Yellow… in reality this means it’s kind of a military olive green
puce… at least the copy in front of me is!
As a small criticism, there’s little or nothing on the packaging to
explain to an outsider or potential random purchaser what this record is
or what it represents. The album graphics are stylised in a way that
connects to Deadlamb records only if you’re already familiar with the
label and it’s work, and from the front this looks more like an album by
an individual band. Perhaps the successful visual dialogue of any
compilation is that it should fluently communicate theme, genre or
That aside, LAMBPAIGN – IRELAND is an important document of where a
fractional slice of Irish Punk is right now, with a very low margin of
curatorial misfire. Where one or two tracks might not appeal to any
given random listener, the whole record is testament to creativity and
variety, and with a lot of short blasts of dissent, it encourages
repeated listens… Nothing outstays its welcome. A definite labour of
Mugabe - Scatalogik.com