LAMBPAIGN

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 purpose.

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 love!

Boz Mugabe - Scatalogik.com


LAMBPAIGN

You can never keep a good underdog down, especially if the buggers throwing out the noisy produce are immersed for life. Deadlamb Records is primarily a 2 man operation, the lads supported the early SAS Tour I ran with my mate Andy NoizeAnoize and have proven themselves to be real understanding blokes as regards the struggle of all things under the radar. They are a steady and reliable force that never follow the expected route and are keen to spread the word of international noise as best as they can - always with the leaning towards that which is struggling to get good airplay. They have done 4 Lambination compilations, 1 Swedish comp, the mighty Spit and Sawdust comp and now the one under scrutiny here. This begins a new campaign that will scour through different countries finding underdog punk. The label also has 44 releases to its name and 4 more in the pipeline. Wow - you gotta love what they do, this is another compilation - I am enthused.

The Nitz open this varied bag of punked noise with the maniacally delivered outburst called 'Welcome To The Toybox'. This opening blast is direct, chain-sawed and never looks back over its shoulder. Essences of many obvious flavours hit home, it is the basic instincts where greatest appeal is found. Batter and clatter, leave the listener bruised and see what the verdict is - that is a formula I like. Within the hollers we get saw blades brandished, the scars may run deeper than first deemed. Audible Joes cough and splutter inward next with the sinewy and highly forceful push of 'Majority Rule'. The song is typical of many US recordings I have heard and for me has a majority of leanings towards times earlier in the 21st century. The technical skill is blatantly on the mark, the crew play with a tight-assed affect that drops not one error and the throat at the fore is seared in a symptomatic style of the sub-genre suggested. The harmonised hollers have a good injection of pace and will indulge the crowds - what more do you want! Next and the Jobseekers 'Spit' one right in your face with a vociferous hardcore industry striving its best to roughen up the listener and sandpaper any indifference one may have. The output is typical tunery from this rankled pit and roars and scrapes a good layer off the attentive senses. It will be orthodox matter though for those in the knowing sub-generic circle but the final roar-up is invigorating to say the least!

The Gakk arrive next with ‘One By One’. They offer up a self-assured threat that no one can ever win when factions within one country collide. The throat dictates above a hotbed of sizzling sound that works with heavy-sweated design and tight-assed economy. Flamboyant extras come, the song bubbles over but stays intact and this is one heavy duty repeat-beat scorcher to add another spark to an already fascinating collection of under the radar sounds. The Jollars bring a spot of street-noise cum football-esque rioting via 'Rebel Boot Boys', a clod-hopping clatter down the alleyways of your mind were 'Oi' is sprayed on the walls, freshly polished Ox-Bloods propel shanks and no slackers are tolerated. A boisterous boomer this celebrating an identity, not giving a fuck and fitting into the sub-generic pool with ease - it clears the head that is for sure.

Cracking along here and United Bottles throw in a professionalised cut of liquid noise via the effort slapped down under the name of 'Ghosts Along The Gangland'. The impetus is high, the unity between players tight and the end production complimentary to what the band are doing. An outpouring that transcends European/Us Punk and seems to hybridise the two - nifty! Next and 'Stray Bullets' are scattered by the group of degenerates known as Grit. The she lead blows out a trail, the feisty tunesters follow in the wake and along the way we, as mortal listeners, get dragged along with appreciation to my spiked and studded joy. The short running time, the galloping impetus and general gusto work a treat, one need add little else. The 2 Deadlamb creators are up next, as part and parcel of the long term unit Nomatrix, a crew who have done their time and continue to do so, once more issuing out a fine blast of honest noise with the clattering cacophony flying under the name of 'Struggle With Momentum'. This song certainly doesn't struggle with momentum at all and hammers forth with the briefest of respites offered just to add that contrast factor. The final chant is demonic chanting on whizz - and what a good way to end a quite bulldozing song.

The Turn take us into the final run in, here the band under the spotlight offer a sound I liken to early 90's DIY US urgency with a brandished knife of sound primarily reliant on gushing enthusiasm and a speed injected desire to nail the noise and the message. The song 'Deaf, Dumb And Drunk' is a pace burst laden with youthful energy and adds yet another subtle twist to a well-compacted CD. Deathgrip turn up the white heat and spill the hardcore conflagration that follows the duo-lead route used and abused by other bastards of hefty intent. 'Slave Rinse Repeat' is a bubbling broth of spitting mania, crossing vocal swords throughout, slashing at the resistance and letting you have it full in the face in no uncertain terms. The throats are burnt to a crisp, the application of noise hurtling, no prisoners or mere passers-by are left standing - the band do it well.
A skanky cum street-rap cum oddment is donated by The Divils, a moment that throws yet another boomerang of awkwardness and keeps me chivvied and all agog. 'Do Something Positive' may over-elaborate at times, may be a spanner in the works, may not be to everyone's liking but there is a mix to munch on and many elements to applaud as well as an out-of-sync blatancy that sticks a finger up the jacksie of your expectations. The band showcase much, leave you wondering and hopefully get you investigating - that is success methinks. We piss off into the final silence with the opening tribality of 'Both' by Shitthatt. A screwing, spiteful and sinister sounding piece of colliding kit that has a docu-style essence and something to throw the senses sideways. As many know, I like shit that is thrown from hidden niches, this is what I deem punk to be - a boundary stretching force to fuck the norm - I think Shitthatt do that here and with the musical news reel turning and the tetchy backdrop of sound unsettled, I am intrigued.

And Deadlamb do it again, mix, match, keep it unorthodox and bring together tonal treats that, without the labels help, would perhaps stay too far apart. My admiration is high, my gratitude at being allowed to listen in and scribble is, as ever, genuine. I hope all and sundry plucking on here and the label themselves take one snippet of advice - 'just keep on doing it for the sheer love of it - idleness is not an option'.

www.fungalpunknature.co.uk


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