One of the true legends of UK punk returns... to a metal label? The End of Days indeed!
When I was growing up it was cool to own a Discharge shirt. So cool in fact most of the dopey sods walking around in them in my part of South London had never heard a note of their music I’m certain. Then dicks like Kirk Hammett and Scott Ian started appearing in the metal press wearing their shirts and a few of the ‘too cool for you’ crew stopped wearing them… I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s always been a mystique around this band (especially amongst metal fans) that somehow never seemed warranted when you actually heard the band’s records or saw them live.
This all seems to come back – flooding back – when you learn that uber metal label Nuclear Blast has signed Discharge with a view to hawking this new record to the metal kids of the modern world. It seems strange that Discharge – always one of the most sincere bands I’ve ever come across – would end up on the same label as serial bandwagon jumpers like Ricky Warwick or nostalgia mongering acts like Enforcer, but there you go. At least Jamey Jasta gets to be on the same label as one of his big influences now…
So what of the music on End of Days? Well, the furious d-beat crust of the Realities of War EP from all those years ago (1980 to be exact – accuracy-obsessed Ed.) is largely gone, replaced by the sort of buzzsaw thrash punk that The Varukers and their ilk used so effectively in the early eighties, and the blustering speed metal of Beat the Bastards era Exploited. It’s not a bad noise, with the likes of False Flag Entertainment in particular standing out as being worthy of the Discharge name.
Guitarist Anthony ‘Bones’ Roberts has always been one of punks most effective guitarists – listen to his other band Broken Bones’ seminal crossover hymn book F.O.A.D. for further proof if needed – and he stamps his presence all over End of Days with his trademark riffing and soloing. New vocalist Jeff ‘JJ’ Janiak – an American! – sounds convincing on excellent single Hatebomb, but you won’t convince me that this most English of punk institutions wouldn’t be better off with a Limey behind the mic. Still that’s me, and you can’t deny the bloke gets a lot of phlegm off his chest over the duration of the album in a full-of-commitment performance.
Not bad then, not bad at all, but overall just a tad on the ‘metal’ side to be a truly classic Discharge album for my tastes.
End of Days is out on Nuclear Blast on April 29th