Booze & Glory - Chapter IV
Released by: Burning Heart Records
Released on: March 31st, 2017.
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London's Booze & Glory have been around since 2009 and have rightly made a name for themselves in traditional Oi! and street punk circles - and for good reason. These guys aren't reinventing the rule book but they do deliver a traditional working class punk rock sound that's easy to get behind and played with an endearing since of earnestness and sincerity. The band is currently made up of Mark on guitar and vocals, Liam on guitar and vocals, Frank on drums, and Bubbles (a Greek according to the band's press release) on bass.
The band's fourth full length opens up with Days, Months, Years. This is a track that sets the tone for the rest of the record to come - straight ahead street punk, not overproduced but raw enough to sound authentic. Lyrics about the trials and tribulations of the working class, with some musical nods to the band's English heritage and a catchy chorus that'll have you singing along with the gang vocals used on the track. No Rules follows suit, with the chorus of "you against them all" it's the type of track to get you properly riled up for whatever cause you'd care to get behind.
The Time Is Now opens with some intense bass playing and some 'air raid siren' style guitar playing over top before things settle down and we get that Cock Sparrer style sing-along punk rock sound that the band does so well. They wear their influences on their sleeve but that's only a problem if your taste in music sucks. Life's A Gamble is a bit more pessimistic than some of the other tracks on the record, it's darker and more serious, which you don't necessarily expect, but it's also one of the best on Chapter IV. Given that it deals with cancer, all of this is understandable, but it's smart, it's pensive and it makes you think and feel. Again, they don't deviate from the traditional street punk sound, but there's catchy guitar riffing here and it's one of those tracks that's easy to get fired up by.
Simple is one of the catchiest tracks, a pensive song that looks back on the clarity of hindsight and knowing when to take a stand - cause hey, you can't win them all, but it's nice to just win at all. Back On Track works a bit of a Pogues influence into the mix, without going into that band's full on traditional style. It's catchy, it'll have you singing along as soon as you figure out the chorus and it's just a really solid four minutes of anthemic punk rock. Carry On (*not* a Manowar cover) is a five minute track, the longest on the record, that opens up with a guitar lick that sounds like it could have come out of a nineties era Social Distortion record, before the band's European roots start to show (that's a good thing). Blood From A Stone takes a calmer approach to the band's influences, sounding more like a rowdier (non-acoustic) Billy Bragg than The Cockney Rejects or Sham 69. Again, not a bad thing at all and it's cool to hear them branch out a bit here.
Fool's Paradise (*not* a Buddy Holly cover) is a mid-tempo track that goes into some decidedly pensive territory as the lyrics talk about dealing with faceless crowds, the band seemingly questioning why they do what they do and if things will ever actually change. It's s a smart, introspective song even if it isn't the one that'll make you want to smash your pint glass against the wall and kick someone in the teeth. Violence & Fear continues the record's trend of seriously catchy hooks and chorus - you want to sing along to even if you don't know all the words. It's a tough guy anthem for sure but a wise man once sang that even tough guys need someone sometimes, so it's all good. Seriously though, some thought went into the lyrics here, it's not overtly political but it does make a good point about how change starts from within.
Last Journey brings us towards the end of the record with some introspection, a track that looks back on choices made for right or for wrong. It's not as blisteringly snotty as some of the band's better recognized efforts but it's a catchy, if slower, effort. For The Better Times brings the band's love of Cock Sparrer back to the forefront for four minutes of pint swinging sing-along street punk with some crazy Jerry Lee Lewis sounds working their way into the track. This comes complete with some unexpected (but welcome) piano in the background! This ode to drinking and friendship is definitely the catchiest track on an album full of catchy tracks, it's old school street punk done right, without completely aping what came before. The record finishes up with Start Believing, clocking in at just under five minutes. It's a straight up traditional street punk track, again with the band wearing their influences plainly on their sleeves, but doing so without ripping anyone off.
There's a lot of positivity here, not just on this track but on the entire record, which is very welcome in an era where things look like they're going further down the shitter by the second. The production here is good, clean and clear enough that it sounds good but raw enough to channel the authenticity that a band like this needs to work. Full marks - if you're into good old fashion Oi! and street punk and don't feel the need to be continually stuck in the past, give this record a shot. Their first three albums were really strong but this brings things to a new level in terms of both musicianship and lyrically potency.