Some of the subtle punk change-up is in Tobbe Pettersson (guitar/vocals) breaking up his voice to sound rougher than he did on the album. First time listeners might even wonder if he can sing as he growls out lyrics and allows his voice to break under the strain. He can sing, but this is punk.
Umbrella and Skeleton Key lead off Allies.
Allies is the third Subwaste split with upstart label Warbird Entertainment based in Atlanta. Their first in 2008 featured six tracks opposite another six by Tommy Gustafsson & The Idiots. Two years later, they dropped a short two over two split with the Dead City Drags before waiting another two years for their sophomore album.
Broken Machine was a pure street punk album, even though I let it slip by for review earlier this year. Most of it was good, but it seemed to me the band was losing some of its edge. Sure, Pettersson proved his range on Broken Machine but it felt like the band had waited far too long between album releases.
It picked up some decent praise elsewhere and that was that. The hard-to-find Straight Out Of The Underground (2007) put out by Randyarchy Media in Europe might have caught more buzz. In fact, I think it would have played out different had the split songs made the album.
Umbrella is an upbeat outlook at having a black cloud hanging over your head after losing something. It's one of the best songs put together by Pettersson, Erik Ersson (guitar/vocals), Danne Pettersson (bass/vocals), and new member Daniel Petri (drums) who joined in time for Broken Machine.
Accompanying Umbrella is Skeleton Key, which sounds more garage rock than previous outings. It might even be stronger, with Pettersson evening out his vocals through the chorus after shouting out the verse. It also feels more substantial in the arrangement and in the lyrics.
The song is about being locked out of life and looking for a skeleton key, feelings plenty of people have these days but can't always articulate. Expect Skeleton Key to move the needle for the band, maybe even more than Umbrella, which had a head start with the video put out last April.
A couple graphs about Stabbed In Back.
The song makes for a great lead-in for Warbird Entertainment newcomer Stabbed In Back, a hardcore punk band hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico. They've played together for a long time, putting out brutal, angry tunes for almost a decade. Although they started as a four piece, their lineup nowadays includes Adam Hooks (vocals), Colin Dowell (lead guitar), Dustin Brandon (guitar), Yuri Pryor (bass), and Tim O'Hara (drums).
Their two songs on the Allies split — Cave In and Parasighting — have a maturity I haven't heard before from the band. So although this review focuses in on Subwaste, give Stabbed In Back a listen too. In fact, all four tracks together will give you a glimpse of their successful 17-day tour across Europe.
There isn't any doubt I'm looking forward to them putting out their next EP or LP for review. I'm not sure when that will be or what either band has in place when they return to the States. I do know that both are gearing up for a big year in 2013.
Subwaste is especially forward focused, having said they're planning shorter sessions in the studio to record two- and four-song sets rather than ten days straight like they did on Broken Machine. Good idea. Being amped up like Subwaste is known to be is hard to maintain in a studio setting.
Umbrella And Skeleton Key Unlock 7.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
Subwaste has never really received the attention it deserves because the band draws so much influence from the 1970s. But I think that's all the more reason to give them a nod. The sound might be inspired, but they do bring their own spin to it all. And this split, Allies, proves it for me.
Allies - EP is available from Amazon. You can also download the split from iTunes. Kudos to Warbird Entertainment for giving a growing number of great bands a home. For upcoming dates, you can find Subwaste here and Stabbed In Back here on Facebook.