by Richard Hart
A review of Biting Elbows’ self titled album. Let us know what you think of it.
There is an awful lot in the modern world worth rebelling against. With the political classes at home and abroad apparently out of touch with the plight of those who they are supposed to protect juxtaposed with an apparently endless war on terror and rising economic trouble, this is prime weather for punk acts.
Add to the mix the cold and dark nature of Russia and new band “Biting Elbows” have an album that is made for the current climate. Their debut, eponymous album hails bands like “Rancid” and the “Violent Femmes” as their influences. It’s not a shrinking violet of an album and it lands like a hammer.
The album is young, dark and aggressive but the vocals are delivered in a fashion that suggests that the singer still has both hope and a sense of humour. The band punch out a fairly wide sound which is filled with blitzing guitar riffs and is pretty bassy in places too.
There is an upbeat, frankly funky sound to the album which has the distinct Eastern feel that seems to come with a number of bands that have grown up in the post-Soviet circle. Tracks like ‘City of No Palms’, ‘Angleton’ and ‘Who Am I To Stand Still’ all have an almost Ska like sound to them.
There are a fair few dark , growling punk songs too. ‘Hype Waltz’, ‘Scaffolds on the Babylon’ and the ribald ‘The Enjoyers’ all proudly display their allegiance to punk music. There’s a definite anti-establishment theme to the songs and they frequently strike at big governments, east and west.
Lyrically it’s a very interesting album, going from the aggressive, strange lyrics of ‘Angleton’ to the sexually charged ones in ‘The Enjoyers.’ The best line in the entire album is in the vaguely “Muse” like ‘Rabid Red’ which has the beautifully dark lyric of ‘How can you be made to feel, less human than a human shield.’
The album has a few experimental moments, most notably in the distorted, low fi ‘Hype Waltz’ but generally the album weaves a familiar tone in each track which proves to be a weakness. By the end the album feels a bit samey, guitar riff, lyric, bass-line, chorus, rinse and repeat. There’s nothing wrong with that in a debut album.
To truly be a trend-setting act, you need to aim slightly higher. With the dark and interesting lyrics and the funky twang of some Ska influences, there’s a lot of hope that Biting Elbows will mature and become an exciting act to follow.
They’ve already opened for “Guns and Roses” so their star is on the rise. Modern punk music is in need of some new champions, perhaps “Biting Elbows” will be one of them.