Unhinged – Keep It Moving
If punk, rock and metal were to fight, Unhinged are the bruises that would form
Words: Phil Weller
Just four months after unleashing their untamed, punk ravished debut EP, Stourbridge’s Unhinged have released another suitably unshackled powerhouse of songs. Like a spectre traversing through the world, not abiding the laws of physics which we mortals are constrained by, the quartet flit between foot-to-the-floor punk rock, 70s inspired rock n’ roll and a metallic edge that you wouldn’t want to meet down a dark alley with an admirable ease.
The production is much improved and their overall sound has been refined. Dan Hipkiss’ guitar tone is much more guttural and present now where previously it struggled to attain dominance in the mix. Dave Kiteley’s drumming, driven by primal instincts but executed with much more intellegentia than you’d expect from a ‘punk’ drummer, is heard with much more clarity. Ben Armstrong’s bass playing meanwhile lurks menacingly beneath the mix like a shark in shallow water and, alongside Kiteley, he creates the battlefield on which his bandmates march.
Four months ago their greatest weapon, Nostalgia’s standout track, resembled the closing track, Snakes. A song about betrayal and backstabbing, it was where the band first perfected the balance between punky angst, classic rock swagger and the kind of harshness that metal music thrives off. On Keep It Moving, Reaper acts in a similar fashion. Opening with quaking tom work from Kiteley and rattling power chords it drops to a venom dripped verse where vocalist Mike Hodges spits vocals of pain and fury. It’s an enrapturing performance from the front man, “with your heart as black as the hood she wears” a fine example of his witty lyricisms, his deep, personal connection to them piercing their annunciation. Iced by a boogie infected chorus with an instantly memorable refrain, the song is another nail-on-the-head moment for the young band. They channel Rage Against The Machine in the bridge before the crescendo, tailor made to reek havoc in the live environment, makes the final blows. It all feels very raw, very natural, but the result is extremely effective. If punk, rock and metal were to fight, Unhinged are the bruises that would form
Yet, as much as Reaper’s multi-faceted aesthetics make it a sure fire highlight, the rest of the album belies that same degree of balance and well roundedness. Addict sounds like The Ramones getting battered by Agnostic Front, Reignite like a Joe Strummer fronted Deep Purple at times.
Each song is adorned in huge melodies and vocal lines that, hammered out live, could spawn into cult anthems. They smartly shift through dynamics throughout and pull off song writing’s dirtiest tips and tricks to make a damnably fun and frantic four tracks that integrate so much in no time at all. They unfurl many aspects of many bands that have been stuck in your head over the past god knows how many years which makes for a comfortably familiarity, yet it has enough character and potency for this to simply be mimicry.
Expect more from the band soon, they don’t fuck around.