Thursday, April 4, 2013

Vandals - "Peace Thru Vandalism" (1983)

EP (Epitaph, 1983)

Line – up (1980):      Stevo – vocals;
                                  Jan Nils Ackerman – guitars;
                                  Steve Pfauter – bass;
                                  Joseph P. Escalante – drums.

Location:                  Huntington Beach, California (USA)

Better song of the feature:

Mmmh… maybe “Urban Struggle” but here there are at least 3 memorable songs, hence the choice is very very hard…

Better feature of the production:

The great band inventiveness.       
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Today we talk about an historic band of the first American punk/HC scene, that is the Vandals, that still plays nowadays, also if their only original member remained is Joe Escalante. “Peace Thru Vandalism” was their first production, where they showed a raw but unbelievably inventive form of punk/HC. There are only 12 minutes circa of music but it is so intense and various that they are really enough, also because some songs almost reach even the 4 minutes of length, like the surprising “Urban Struggle”.

But before I would address to the structure of the tracks, because maybe it’ll not like to some of you. In fact, every song is based on 2 or 3 passages repeated for all the time, in a similar way to the British HC bands like Disorder or Chaos UK. Fortunately, the band is able to surprise the listeners through simple but clever intuitions, like weird solos (“Legend of Pat Brown”), unforeseeable tempo shifts etc… etc…. So, every song has a very good personality.

For example, listen to “Urban Struggle”. Its introduction is awesome, starting even with the main theme of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. Then, it becomes a very fast HC ride. Or listen to “Pirate’s Life”, that has, in a certain point, a reggae passage with a brilliant melodic performance by the bassist. But we don’t absolutely forget to mention the two furious classics of the EP, that are “HB Hotel”, all based on the gradual aggressivity of the vocals and that has a rock introduction, and the anthem “par excellence” titled “Anarchy Burger (Hold the Government)”, characterised instead by a more groovy approach.

But now it’s time to talk about Stevo, that is one of the better HC singers that I’ve ever heard. His approach is very histrionic and versatile, ranging from the cowboy verses and shrills of “Urban Struggle” to the uncontrollable performances of the last two songs, included the clashed melodic lines during the introduction of “HB Hotel”. Intensity is the right word to describe his vocal work, not forgetting the sense of humour that covers the entire production. In this way, the infamous raspberry at the end of “Legend of Pat Brown” is a perfect example, stuff for delicate connoisseurs.

Another interesting thing of the music comes from the drumwork, above all for the frequent one – two beats shooting both in the fast songs and during the slower ones. Thanks to this feature, the songs have a really unbridled pace, and all this means that there is a great collaboration between the musicians.

All in all, “Peace Thru Vandalism” – 4th release for the Epitaph, the label of Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion – is a small classic in its genre and an excellent demonstration about the creative and ingenious skills of the first punk/HC, despite its fame of musical poverty. Vandals were also a novelty, refreshing the scene with a great sense of humour after an impressive succession of political and serious bands. So, if you want to spend some time in very mad cheerfulness, this band is perfect to listen, also because the production of the EP is very good and clear.

Rating: 83

Flavio “Claustrofobia” Adducci


1 – Wanna Be Manor/ 2 – Urban Struggle/ 3 – Legend of Pat Brown/ 4 – Pirate’s Life/ 5 – HB Hotel/ 6 – Anarchy Burger (Hold the Government)

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