The Bristles

The Bristles ‘Bigger Than Punk’ (Heptown Records)
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The Bristles are clearly angry; having listened to their latest eleven track album ‘Bigger Than Punk’ it’s fair to say they are VERY angry.

The album title draws its inspiration from The Dead Prez, the hardcore political hip-hop crew who put out the documentary “It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop” back in June 2006 and covers similar lyrical themes of anger, frustration and a rejection of the values of the Western economies; all fairly standard content for a hardcore punk band though The Bristles have been around since the late 80’s and age has certainly not mellowed these boys – as such they deliver 11 tracks of ferocious intensity in just under 30mins.

Opener ‘Gulag’ will pin you to the wall from the off, breakneck speed, gravel voiced lead and mosh pit enflaming chorus; title track ‘Bigger Than Punk’ expands upon their hardcore roots, it’s even got a progressive edge but still retains its punk roots, ‘The Great Wall Of Europe’ is equally impressive – this is hardcore but with a contemporary spin, and the lyrics leave you in no doubt as to which side of the line The Bristles will be standing come the predicted meltdown; ‘The American Dream’ begins with a short (heavily Swedish accented) reading from The Declaration Of Independence before trashing the US dream, the remaining tracks ease off on the pace, but don’t lose any impact as a result.


‘Spirit Way’ is a real curveball; in the midst of this punk rage The Bristles deliver a competent reggae number, Puma’s gravel vocals not sounding that dissimilar to those of the mighty Prince Far I

Album closer ‘The End’ has already been picked up by Greenpeace to highlight the current ‘Go Beyond Oil’ campaign both the lyrics and the campaign seeking to end our dependence on this finite and destructive source of energy; and its this act alone that differentiates The Bristles 2012 from the bands late 80’s incanation; they retain the same punk spirit, their sound has perhaps become heavier, there is certainly a darker edge; but its the maturity of the lyrics that elevate the band – these are carefully considered, chronologically relevent, far from being the rant of earlier releases.

The only criticism would be the cover; when a band have gone to the considerable trouble of writing such intense thought provoking lyrics, then going to the trouble to translate and reprint them in English on the inner sleeve why would they allow the finished album to be housed in such an appalling sleeve?

Track list:

Bigger Than Punk Rock
The Great Wall Of Europe
The American Dream
In The Closet
Home Is Where The Danger Is (Home Sweet Home)
Holidays In Thailand
Revolution Of The Rich
A Woman’s Work Is Never Done
Spirit Way
The End

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Phil Newall is 47, from The Wirral - he earns his living not writing about music nor playing music...though sorely wishes he could. He was fortunate enough to see many of the first generation punk bands when they played the U18's matinee shows at Eric's, Liverpool. As an attendee at Eric's he was exposed to punk rock, dub reggae, art rock, and all manner of weirdness; as a customer at Probe Records he was variously served and scowled at by Pete Wylie and Pete Burns - he has written for Record Collector, Whisperin & Hollerin, and Spiral Scratch and wanted to write a book detailing the Liverpool punk scene; however with 'Head-On' Julian Cope beat him to it...and frankly did a much better job.



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