Label: Street Urchin Records
If you’ve even the remotest experience with punk rock, then you’ll probably have an idea in your mind of what The Album from Blest Mess sounds like before you’ve even heard the first song. Street punk with plenty of old-school tendencies? Absolutely, and all the better for it. These scene veterans clearly know exactly what sound and style they’re after, and absolutely nail it. The only sign that The Album wasn’t recorded at some point in the 80s is the production, and you know what? That is a very good thing indeed. Full of attitude and energy, this is old-school punk done right.
The main thing that really stands out about The Album is vocalist/guitarist Miss Chris Crash. Her vocals are delightfully raw, full of venom, sarcasm, and sincerity by turns, depending on what best suits the song and lyrics. Her guitar playing is full of energy, and strikes the right balance between melody and aggression; it’s tuneful in the way a lot of the best classic punk and hardcore is, whilst still keeping a distinct “fuck you” attitude. Behind her, bassist Randi Stokes provides a suitably weighty low-end and backing vocals, whilst the drumming is powerful, keeping the songs moving forward without ever being overly flashy. That all involved are no newcomers to the game is obvious; the song-writing is sharp, the playing tight, and there’s not an ounce of fat that could be cut.
None of which is intended to imply that these songs are somehow simple or lazy. Rather, the experience of the members means that they know how to get to the point without waiting around, and when the songs go through shifts and turns – as evidenced early on in “The FU Song” and the dramatic, crushing “Go-Go Hell” – they don’t feel self-indulgent or flashy. Rather, they’re being used to help build and maintain momentum – and that’s something this album has in spades. The Album absolutely races by, its ten tracks flashing by. Despite that, they manage to retain their individual character and feel, whilst forming a cohesive whole – there’s considerable differences between, say, “New Jersey Sucks” and “A Thousand Ways”, yet they all fit in to the whole. Whilst a lot of albums that try to keep the flame of old-school punk burning end up feeling derivative and like a poor imitation, full of songs but low of character and inspiration, the opposite is true of The Album.
It’s that character – both as a band and on individual songs – that keeps me coming back to The Album. At a time when a lot of punk feels incredibly tired and boring to me, Blest Mess have released something that reminds me of why I loved the genre for so long, and demonstrates that old-school doesn’t have to equal derivative and dull. And as such, anyone who likes their punk rock to be full of attitude, energy, and the right balance of energy and bite are well advised to give The Album a listen.
The Album is available on CD and green/black splatter vinyl from CD Baby and Street Urchin Records. Selected tracks can also be streamed and download via Reverbnation. The band are also doing a run of UK shows at the end of July/start of August; check out their website for details.