Album Review: Army Of Skanks – “The Perfect Storm”
Hailing from the same Coventry punk scene that spawned the vicious polemic of Dragster, this is the second album from Army of Skanks, with the group reduced from a five-piece on their debut to a trio here. It’s fairly obvious from the off as the snarling Trouble kicks in that this is very much a punk band with its head in the early 80s, when the likes of the Exploited, GBH and Vice Squad stood atop the scene like leather and studs clad colossi. Hell, second track Old Town Pub sees the group firmly nailing their colours to the mast as they reminisce about growing up in that era.
The trouble is, and I hate to be so blunt here but, it ain’t 1982 any more. Recent years have seen a slew of new punk groups coming on who realise that if the movement doesn’t evolve then it’s likely to, if not die, then at least be sidelined. Army of Skanks unfortunately aren’t one of them and it makes The Perfect Storm a bit of a punk-by-numbers album which, the odd bit of guitar pyrotechnics aside, doesn’t really deviate much from a tried, tested and depressingly predictable formula. They lack the ferocity of Dragster or the Filaments, the guile of the Empty Page or Hands off Gretel, the singalong daftness of Dirt Box Disco, the sheer weirdness of Wonk Unit or the versatility of Reaction or the Bar Stool Preachers, and it all leaves them kind of struggling to be heard in a pretty dense field.
It’s a real shame because it’s clear that Army of Skanks are a band with their heads screwed on and plenty to say about the world, as they tackle topics such as violence against women (Pheromone Attack) and the climate change apocalypse (Body Of Water), which is laudable in itself. I just wish they’d picked a bit more of an interesting way musically to get these points across. This storm unfortunately turns out to be more like a bit of light drizzle…
I feel bad for giving this album such a low score as Army of Skanks are definitely a band with more world-awareness than most and deserve credit for raging against the state of things. But compared to a lot of other punk bands whose albums I've reviewed in the last year or so, they feel a bit like they're a step down the evolutionary ladder. Good intentions, but this is a band who badly need to work on stepping outside their comfort zone I'm afraid.