Unhinged - Nostalgia
Virulent and filthy, the crux of Stourbridge quartet Unhinged’s début EP is simple. As adrenalised and as furious as you’d expect from any band that weld punk’s anarchistic snarl with metal’s gruff clangour, it’s the energy – which speeds and raves like a madman on a coke binge – that punctuates the record. Punk has never been about what you play, but how you play it. But not only do they play with that invigorating ‘fuck everything’ sense of wildness that defines their name, but there are also some fantastic moments of riff work and breakdowns thrown in that amplify the band’s dimensions and make this, not just a killer punk record, but a great metal record too.
On the title track, Mike Hodges, with a voice like the dying embers of a fuse burning, roars “got back my killer instinct/my urge to smash shit up,” while a barrage of punching power chords and harsh snare drum hits smear the background. The refrain of “for one brief moment I lose control and let myself go” epitomises the whole 90s thrash punk scene and in itself embodies its own sense of wonderfully nasty nostalgia.
Agnostic Front are a band pinned to the forefront of this band’s imagination; those fun, off-the-chain house party vibes prevalent across all four tracks. Yet, Unhinged come across messier, rawer, more down to earth. On Above The Water, Ben Armstrong (bass) and Dave Kiteley (drums) lock into a glissading groove, allowing Dan Hipkiss’ guitar to, alongside another hate-flecked vocal performance from Hodges, swipe for your throat with aplomb. Homesick, as ravenous as it is however, is born to be, not just heard but experienced. Short, fast and deadly, this needs to be witnessed live rather than on record.
They leave the killer blow to the end, though. Snakes is the EP’s most memorable song and it sees them marrying those punk aesthetics with venomous lyricisms – “Hunt them down/kill them slow/a quick death is too good for you” – and a metallic, Anthrax fashioned breakdown. They collide together, bombinate and accelerate forwards, that breakdown turning the entire song on its head in a way that is both surprising and utterly convincing and encapsulating.
There are thousands of bands who could out-play Unhinged in terms of technicality, but there are very few with as much attitude and wholehearted togetherness, and that’s something you just can’t teach.
Nostalgia is out now via their Bandcamp for £2 - https://unhingeduk.bandcamp.com/
Words: Phil Weller