Slalom D – Waltz into Anarchy (Serial Bowl Records, 2023)

It’s a weird thing, innit, how the young ‘uns take the sounds from days of yore and then act they invented it. Yes, I’m aiming my shit be-smeared pointed stick at you, Idles and Fontaines DC et al, and the hordes of badly clothed dunces that look like they got dressed in the dark in the worst part of the 1980s. Just stop it with the watered down, faux-working class post-punk cosplay, it’s inauthentic, and embarrassing.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, I feel it’s safe to mention that there are obviously exceptions to the rule around the latest wave of post-punk revival. There are some exceptional bands out there at the moment doing justice to the genre: Chain Cult (from Greece), Bleakness (from France), and of course the UK’s very own High Vis as just a few key examples.

Although they might not entirely fit quite as squarely within the post-punk envelope (rectangularly? depends on the envelope I would imagine), Sunderland’s Slalom D have enough in common to be included in the conversation. On their bandcamp page, they describe themselves thusly: “Rhythmic, catchy, with a contemporary political edge and a passionate lyrical stance that, true to its North-East roots, agitates and unsettles. Prepare for accessible discordance.” I’d also mention that they are also not youngsters; these folks are what you might describe as scene veterans – they’ve also named themselves after a brand of cheap super strength lager that enjoyed some notoriety in the local scene.

Waltz into Anarchy is their second album, and follows up 2021’s Happy Skies, plus numerous digitally released singles. Slalom D are clearly a band that write about things that matter; from animal cruelty to socio-economic deprivation and harmful stereotyping and so on and so forth. Safe to say they aren’t afraid to get their point across, and they do so in an articulate, clear and intelligent way.

Musically speaking, I’m put in mind of the bleak post-industrial England sound High Vis are currently capturing so well, along with elements of dark misery evinced by Bleakness and Chain Cult, by way of Stiff Little Fingers and The Damned. This is lifted by the warmly textured tones of American bands like Naked Raygun and Mission of Burma, and a soupcon of bright Wedding Present style jangle. It’s all firmly bound together with a tightly wound and thoroughly convincing rhythm section. Shout out to Fiona Duncan for one of the better vocal performances I’ve heard this year – there’s been a fair bit of stiff competition, too.

There’s absolutely nothing about this to dislike or complain about, which is just the way I like it. This ought to equally and easily please young heads and older heads alike, which I feel there’s been a distinct lack of in recent times. I’d happily go out there and say this sits head and shoulders above that populist BBC Radio 6 dross that seems to garner loads of undeserved attention these days. It sounds fresh enough that if you didn’t know this lot were comparative veterans, you’d never tell by just listening.

Tony of Nurgle rating: 9/10

This is available from the Serial Bowl Records bandcamp page on red vinyl for the absolute bargain of a tenner or on CD for a fiver. Other punk labels take note: this is how it’s done.

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