Album Review: Bullets And Octane – “Waking Up Dead”
It’s easy to forget that a decade or so ago, Bullets And Octane were being hyped as the next big thing in sleaze-punk (slunk? I dunno). Taking the scuzzed-up debauchery of G’n’R or LA Guns and adding to a frenetic punk sensibility, their future looked bright, but unfortunately their trip burned out almost as soon as it had started and with the group fizzling into inactivity as the noughties turned into the teens, and it seemed as though they were no more.
However, turns out we were mistaken – while Bullets And Octane haven’t been seen on these shores since 2009, they’ve remained semi-active back in their native USA and Waking Up Dead is their fifth album, following on from 2013’s 15. Given that most of the bands they shared a stage with back in the day (Backyard Babies, Wednesday 13, Buckcherry et al) have almost all been on something of a quality drought in terms of their recent output though, it’s safe to say I didn’t go into this one with particularly high hopes.
However, I’ll hold my hands up and say that I was pleasantly surprised by Waking Up Dead. Sure, it’s pretty much more of the same Social Distortion/Supersuckers indebted rock ‘n’ roll that Bullets And Octane used to do back in the noughties, but it still well and truly knocks the Backyards and Buckcherry’s most recent albums out of the park without any great effort. Maybe it’s because this group never quite broke through to the same extent that the aforementioned did, but the crucial difference is that on songs like Bad Motherfucker, Waking Up Dead and Fuck You Song, they still sound lean, mean and angry, rather than bloated and complacent.
There are a few attempts to branch out here as well, such as the punked-up tango of Fires and the acoustic led Hostage, which at least show Bullets And Octane aren’t content to just sit around and retread the same old formula for 35 minutes. The only slight problem is the lack of a genuine top drawer tune to really push this up into essential territory (which in truth was always their big Achilles heel), but all the same, Waking Up Dead ain’t a bad effort at all.
Although it's unlikely to win Bullets And Octane many new converts outside their existing fanbase, Waking Up Dead at least has an energy and snottiness which shows that they still actually give a damn about putting out decent quality music, which is more than can be said for some of their one-time compadres. Welcome back lads, looks like we might have missed you a bit more than we thought.