Beat The Red Light - Beat the Red Light

by Deany Sevigny Rating:8 Release Date:2010-02-01

When one thinks of High Wycombe, it's doubtful the first thing that springs to mind is that it houses a wealth of untapped musical potential. In fact, I'm not sure what springs to mind when one thinks of High Wycombe - the archaic and rather comical weighing of the mayor ceremony, perhaps? Well, now there's also rather talented upcoming ska-core band Beat the Red Light.

Their self-titled EP, produced by Iain Wetherall (who has helped the careers of underground hits such as Capdown, Lightyear, Viking Skull, Punchbowl, and Reason 69 rocket up), is surprisingly easy listening - if you like this sort of thing. Sounding like a mixture of Slayer and Reel Big Fish initially, it's a wonder how these styles gel, but by heck, they do and somehow manage to keep free of any feeling of 'novelty band'.

Opener 'Never a Dull Moment' starts like a ska-punk reinterpretation of Metallica's 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' with its extended instrumental intro, only with a severely punkier edge. Think pre-Sing the Sorrow AFI, post-IOWA Slipknot, and pre-Love. Angel. Music. Baby Gwen Stefani - so, as you can imagine, a fair bit of lyrical angst. "I can't handle this truth/ It seemed to occur piece by piece but you never let it get to you" for example. However, this is good angst; a rather nostalgic angst, that harks back to a time when youngsters probably did have something to be angry about.

'The Luminous Way' has a nostalgic guitar shredding opener, and is in much the same vein as the first track: energetic and again successfully marrying punk and metal, with brass as their upbeat mistress. Complete with a breakdown reminiscent of contemporary post-hardcore suits like Bleeding Through or early Avenged Sevenfold, it culminates with a truly epic 80s hair metal shred. Break out the leopard print and fingerless leather gloves for this one. 'The Scene is Under Attack' takes an ironic swipe at scenesters and conformity while playing it rather safe, musically. It's pretty straightforward ska-punk this time round, probably an intentional device alluding to being true to the genre/scene and to oneself, and not an imitation or follower of any particular herd.

'White Collar Pride' sounds heavily reminiscent of The Misfits circa 1995, upon their revival with new frontman Michale Graves, but in music only. Anti-capitalism themes abound, this is familiar territory for punk, and like the song before it, more straightforward ska. 'Send in the Clowns' opens with a sinister shredding reminiscent of the bridge of Slipknot's 'Disasterpieces', leading into a few menacing and chaotic Slayer-esque bars before descending into the very epitome of ska-core, with lively, wailing trumpets accompanying a brilliant hardcore breakdown. Hidden bonus track "TxLxW" sounds like Bring Me The Horizon meets Reel Big Fish, and seems to last all of a fleeting, maniacal moment, just like punk used to be: short and aggressively to the point.

Altogether, Beat the Red Light's unoriginality is probably their greatest strength. Their music is wonderful nostalgia for anyone who misses the era before Kerrang! magazine became an unofficial propaganda rag for Fall Out Boy, or AFI before Aiden attempted thieving their thunder, or even Slipknot before they got sick of the masks and started producing rather sub-par power ballads. Dig out those three-quarters, the colourful beads, and your skateboard.

Dean Birkett

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