From the moment Trotsky’s frantic, classic punk, drumming, of Terrorist In Waiting open Subhumans latest album, Crisis Point, it’s clear that, despite being the best part of four decades into their career the band have as much drive, power and passion as any punk band out there today.
I’ll admit that I’m late getting to Subhumans as a band, having only listened to them properly this year following their appearance at the Chaos festival back in June, so I don’t know how this new album, released in September 2019, fits into their oeuvre — regardless its clear that it packs a punch throughout.
With 11 tracks crammed into only 27 minutes its energy is remarkable and sits it up alongside anything being put out by any newer band.
All centred on the ranting delivery (in a very good way) of Dick Lucas, it mixes a range of punk rock sounds and well trodden concerns of punk bands down the years but does so in a way that remains entirely fresh and vital.
Overwhelmingly Lucas’ words are a deconstruction and rally against the current state of politics and the average person’s relationship with, it taking in everything from media propaganda to an increase in Orwellian surveillance and how we are being encouraged, by certain powers that be, to see the worst in everyone.
The aforementioned Terrorist In Waiting is a great microcosm of most of the record and the subtle cleverness of Lucas’ words really stand out. It would be very easy to hear it as simply an angry man shouting but, even on first listen, an extra layer is obvious that really elevates Lucas’ words to the level of poetry — albeit in a very aggressive and polemic form.
Across the record the subjects do vary somewhat, most notably on Punk Machine that seems more concerned with their particular corner of the record industry than anything more political and Poison which directly focusses on the environment, but mostly it’s dealing with societal and political ills from the media baiting Atom Screen War to Strange Land that deals very directly with the ongoing refugee crisis and immigration.
Behind Lucas the music provided by drummer Trotsky along with guitarist Bruce Treasure and bass player Phil Bryant, matches the lyrics for power and passion taking the style heard in anarcho-punk and hardcore in the 80s and updating it with cleaner modern production but without losing anything of its punch or vitality.
Highlights from the rest of record include, the opener along with Fear And Confusion, Strange Land and 99% but really there isn’t a weak track on Crisis Point making it a stand out record of the year and showing a band who, against type and expectation, are as strong and potent now as they were on their debut 36 years ago.