Total Chaos – [Album]

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Something in me really wants to like Total Chaos' new album but, at the same time, I also want to hate it bitterly (often for the exact same reasons) as I listen to it. On one hand, the thirteen-year old punk in me wants to love the hell out of the music but, on the other hand, the thirty-three-year old punk in me wants to curse and renounce the album for being a played-out parody of played-out punk values. So which is it? Good or bad? Well, it's both – and which way you see it depends entirely upon (first) how old you are and (second) how fondly you remember the annex of the Nineties punk rock renaissance which was patrolled by boot boys, skinheads and other such romper stompers and sons of anarchy.

Those who do miss their skinhead salad days will immediately begin to feel a little tingle of nostalgia as “Hooligan's Holiday” (no, it's not a Motley Crue cover) kicks the record open with such force that some listeners will feel compelled to check their chiclets to make sure they've still got sixteen in place. Here, guitarist Sean Smash lives up to his name as he patters out six chords worth screaming “Oi!” over while singer Rob Chaos serves listeners with a choral reminder that skinheads also know how to have fun and belt a great gang vocal. The going only gets harder as “Total Massacre,” “Political Repression,” “That's The Story Of My Life” (but not a Social D cover) and “Social Crimes stoke the old fires and shine the boot black with care. On first listen, some punks may complain that Battered And Smashed is really just a re-enactment of old glories for Total Chaos (not much of a stretch given that the band isn't breaking any new ground here) but, with the state of punk rock seeming to get lighter and more diluted more and more (say hello to Heartsounds, Dangerous and Falling In Reverse), it could be argued that this kind of voice is actually more valid now than it ever was (exception being the tactless German inferences made in “You Look Like Shit” which gets a little too “neo” and/or “supremacist” for anyone's comfort levels).

With that rather conflicted impression of Battered And Smashed in mind though, the fatalist's question of “Who'll notice that the band is back and they haven't just phoned in their return?” seems to only get both more pertinent and valid. Punk's a different scene from what it was when Total Chaos started (hell – it's a different place from when the band released its last album in 2008) and, while there's still a place for them, it's still questionable how many young punks will hear and appreciate this music, and what sort of impact it could possibly have; it's okay, but not earth-shattering.



Battered And Smashed is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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