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I’ll admit, this one took a little while to win me over. It’s not that this is some immense prog-rock opus that took several spins for me to take everything in – far from it – but rather, something about Don’t Panic, the first album by Belgian punks Missiles Of October, took a while to really get a hold of me. As time has gone on and I’ve given the record more time, I’m glad I did, as this is a dirty, vicious, nasty record, and is pretty damn good.
Missiles Of October are a three-piece containing veterans of a good number of bands, and they play in a style that is instantly recognisable, but hard to pin down exactly. There’s the influence of several styles in their sound, with a huge punk attitude to the record, and more than a hint of really early hardcore and a very strong bass-heavy sound. There’s a bit more to it than that though, with a sludge feel at points, a strong noise rock influence (think Unsane etc.), and maybe even a hint of The Jesus Lizard and early Killing Joke. It’s a pretty effective combination, and for the most part moves along at a mid-tempo pace, heavy without being oppressively so, with occasional moments that add texture and a little variation, such as a short guitar solo mid-way through “Become An Asshole”, and more up-tempo tracks such as “Cheerleader”.
Those core building blocks of the band’s sound are also why I struggled to get in to Don’t Panic at first, though. The riffs are pretty repetitive in a way that makes me think of Killing Joke, and it can take a good few listens for some of the nuances to make themselves known. There’s some songs where it works better than others. “Six Pack” (not a Black Flag cover, as might be expected) is a great example of how well it can work, especially when the guitars change oh-so slightly whilst the bass maintains its singular riff, and the feedback based solo is awesome. By comparison, “Wannabe” is not quite as good; it’s not a bad song, but it is that bit too long to be as good as it perhaps could have been.
But what can’t be over-stated is just how catchy these songs are. Since first hearing the album, almost all of these songs have been stuck in my head at one point or other, and in a way that I don’t mind them buzzing around my brain. It might seem strange to describe such a heavy and blatantly aggressive album as catchy, but there’s no avoiding it – these songs have hooks, and the vocals, as hoarse and raw as they are, will have some of the lyrics popping in to your head throughout the day. And if you’re worried that means Don’t Panic has pop leanings, just remember that it has song titles like “Dead Body”, “Become An Asshole”, “Two Feet In Sludge”, “Music For Hangover”, and “You Pray A World Of Shit”, and each one fits the sound and feel of the music superbly.
As such, this is an album that might require a few spins to really get in to, but it’s well worth the time spent doing so. Don’t Panic is dirty, loud, and nasty, and well worth your time.
Don’t Panic is available for free stream and download via Bandcamp, on Digipack CD through Pogo Records, and on vinyl through Dingleberry Records, Pogo Records, Bonobo Stomp, and At War With False Noise.