There’s something about “Eastern European” punk that I really like. Now I’m sure that a lot of it is awful, but the stuff that makes it over here is usually pretty damn good. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is about this sort of no-frills, attitude driven rock that I find so endearing..
Maybe it’s just because it’s so unpretentious… Maybe.
Anyway, the latest band from over there to make it over here are Russia’s Biting Elbows, and their self titled debut album is something that punk fans of all generations need to check out. 12 “killer, dark, affected punk tracks” is not a bad way to describe it, mixing in a veritable molotov cocktail of influences from Ska, Reggae, Metal and, of course, good old fashioned Punk. Unusually for a lot of these bands who insist on singing in English the lyrics are particularly good, with none of the underlying passion and attitude being lost in translation.
Biting Elbows are a band who clearly grew up listening to the likes of Rancid and The Clash, and evoke similar levels of anguish and anger at the world. Things kick off with Toothpick, a subtle little ditty about the revenge fantasies they inevitably follow the death of a relationship. This is the lead single off the album, and you can check out the video (directed by vocalist / rhythm guitarist Ilya Naishuller) here… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uR9pt73L_JU
It’s a suitably angry and vitriolic album without becoming at all ranty. Punk bands since the beginning of the movement have railed against politics, injustice and the excesses and oppressions of the state. Maybe THAT’s what I like about this particular brand of Eastern European punk, it’s a product of the political system that spawned it as opposed to being the product of some middle class home counties art school students. The themes that Biting Elbows expose on here are the sort of things that would have landed them in trouble not that long ago, Angleton about the co founder of the CIA and his relationship with British spy Kim Philby, Rabid Red dealing with police violence and Dustbus describing the almost universal distrust of governments by their own people.
“Riot suits are not rentals
Neither are wounds on the temples
Gonna get you before the night is through
We are the man and who the fuck are you”
And if you think that all looks like pretty standard Punk fare, then you’re right. Although the themes have been extensively covered, with varying degrees of sincerity, over the past 30 years Biting Elbows pack the musical muscle to get their message across. It’s a bonus that if you scratch just a little below the surface there’s a surprising amount of depth here too, some of the guitar melodies are just plain brilliant. This is a band who can clearly play a bit…
Great tunes, intelligent lyrics and bucket loads of passion and energy.
This is what Punk Rock should be.