Random Hand – Seething is Believing VS Melchett: The Likes Of You And Me

Posted: September 3, 2011 in Album Reviews, Head To Head Reviews
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NEWS FROM THE FRONT PRESENTS:
THE 2011 ALBUM OF THE YEAR SHOWDOWN


 

 

 

 

 

 

  For a long time this year, it seemed like the battle for my personal Album of the Year would be a one-horse race. Since it’s release at the tail-end of March, Random Hand’s ‘Seething Is Believing’ has rarely been away from my speakers or headphones. Until now, that is. Enter Melchett, and their effort, ‘The Likes of You And Me’. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the Canterbury punk trio’s debut output, which led me to ask the question – is it good enough to knock the Bradford quartet off their lofty perch? Time to find out. In the red corner, battle-hardered veterans of the scene with two previous albums and over 1,000 gigs under their belts. In the blue corner, the plucky underdogs armed with wry smirks and a knack for hooks. Southern pride is on the line here, boys – no pressure or anything…

In terms of energy on display, there’s nothing to choose between the two at all, with the Hand’s powerful ska-punk riffage being matched by Melchett’s hyperspeed punky-hardcore attack. Both bands open their respective records at 100mph, and keep the pace set to frantic for most of the journey. But where RH have an immediate edge is in songcraft. The entire record bares the hallmarks of a band realising that they really don’t need to keep pushing their sound forward, rather, refine what they already have created. Guitarist Matt Crosher has long been a veritable box of tricks, but there’s an added level of restraint this time around which gives his and his bandmates’ efforts more impact. Take a song like ‘Not A Number’, where the pace slows to mid-tempo and a moody ska emphasis backs up singer Robin Leitch’s socially conscious diatribes, building menacingly to the impassioned gang chants at the finale. Simple enough, but there’s an added degree of subtlety that wasn’t as present on previous records. Bassist Joe Tilston is the unsung hero of the record, backup up Crosher’s riffs and often taking a ‘lead bass’ style, one that suits him down to the ground. Unsurprisingly, this record is by far their most consistent work, with not a single under-par track on the whole record.

Now you see the challenge that Melchett are up against, and it’s one they rise to with aplomb. Whilst they can’t match their rivals’ experience, they do have the power of rookie exuberance on their side, and they use it to great effect. The zenith of the record is the one-two punch of ‘Lost Your Way’, which shows that hardcore beats and pop hooks can marry in perfect harmony with devastating results, and ‘Who’s To Blame’, a song bursting at the seams with summery melodies and the words ‘anthem’ written all over it. Frontman Dan Goatham has a great grasp of what to play at any given time, throwing arpeggios, counterpoints and chords into the tunes with relative ease and giving the music a deceptively catchy edge. Power trios rely entirely on a tight, razor-sharp delivery, and they have that in abundance thanks to bassist Kenny Razzell’s unfussy bass work and Rich Goodyer’s powerhouse drumming. The record is reliably entertaining, but when placed alongside the dexterity and ruthless power of ‘…Believing’, it swiftly pales in comparison, before being blown clean out of the park by one of the finest punk rock ‘n’ roll songs in years – ‘Floating Ghosts’.

I’m not joking when I say that this song, on it’s own, makes the record worth buying. It’s a perfect demonstration of devastating riffs and crashing downpours of drums initially, before revealing an ace card in the form of a slowed, tension-building bridge section, full of echoed guitar lines. The track begins to build back up again, slowly but surely, and suddenly, it’s walloping back in with all the destructive force of a nuclear tornado, leaving nothing but rubble and ruins by the time the closing notes ring out. Just to add insult to injury, lead-off single ‘Bones’ follows immediately after just to rub salt in the wounds, with Tilston clearly having great fun laying down the superbly spunky bassline alongside the merry ska beats and trombone hooks, but it’s all a moot point anyway. Melchett are laying face down on the canvas, nursing a swollen lip and a black eye. The fight is all over.

Winner: RANDOM HAND

By 5th Round Knockout

Melchett were plucky and brave, and don’t go away from this thinking that their record is in any way bad – it’s an excellent little record definitely worthy of your time. It’s just that they happened to come up against a band playing at the very peak of their powers, armed with one of the strongest records the punk scene has witnessed in many a year. The way looks clear for them, although I hear My Third Leg have an album in the works…

First published in Wasted! Magazine, August 2011.

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