Sonic Boom Six

City Of Thieves

Written by: PP on 08/05/2009 15:30:37

Sonic Boom Six have long been considered as one of the hottest punk upstarts in the UK by those in the know. They've never been in the spotlight of the UK punk scene in the same way as Gallows, The Ghost Of A Thousand, All Or Nothing or even Save Your Breath; I remember seeing them three or four years ago in a tiny pub at my university town Guildford with only a handful of people attending. The band have come far from their lo-fi DIY sound from back then into the professionally produced sound of their newest album "City Of Thieves", one of the most thought-out and original punk albums you'll have heard this year.

Mixing together reggae, hardcore punk, hip-hop and ska, Sonic Boom Six are indeed a genre cocktail like no other. They're fronted by an aggressively rapping female vocalist whose child-like high pitched voice some may find annoying, but it adds a great local vibe to the band's music. Anyone familiar with the band's previous records will have cherished their ska-punk influenced hip hop, but much of that has been moved aside somewhat in favour of a more direct, in-your-face hardcore oriented approach on this album. Songs like "Back 2 Skool" hit you hard, complete with backing gang vocals and fierce riffing, but yet it's still catchier than anything the band has done in the past. Then you've got the completely hip-hop oriented "Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!" where the band's secondary vocalist takes the lead for a rapped verse, before the female leads come back for the chorus. I must say I'm not the biggest fan of this track, whereas a song like the breakneck speed hardcore punker "A Bright Cold Day In April" is much more to my tastes. Laila K's aggressive female vocals come across much better in the faster punk tracks than on the rap stuff.

The band are extremely political: there are spoken-word samples stuck between the songs (the same way as on Ministry records) that advance the band's concept: deteriorating state of life in a large UK metropolis (London is assumed). That the otherwise perfect production has allowed the guitars sound down-tuned and raw really makes the record sound dangerous to the extent that it's possible to live the fear and suffocation of people in the urban landscape that the band conveys throughout the album. Job well done there. But as quickly as you've become accommodated with the bleakness of their sound/theme hybrid, you're treated to "Rum Little Skallywag", a summery track full of trumpets and ska rhythms. All the angry chords and pissed-off vocals have all of a sudden been exchanged with a radio-friendly attitudes and bright melodies. I guess it's meant as a breather moment, as "The Concrete We're Trapped Within (It's Yours)" brings back gang vox and hardcore punk with shattering force straight after.

Overall, "City Of Thieves" is an excellent depiction of the urban claustrophobia many people in the UK feel on an almost daily basis. Musically, the record is as fierce as it is political, as aggressive as it is melodic, filling the void between ska and hardcore in its own unique way. It's difficult to find bands to compare Sonic Boom Six to because they are so original, and for that alone, you should be checking out this record. It's a huge improvement on the band's previous material and should be the record that'll launch the band into a wider recognition from the grassroots level that they've been at for a good couple of years now.

Download: Jericho, Back 2 Skool, A Bright Cold Day In April
For the fans of: The King Blues, Random Hand, Adequate Seven, Skindred
Listen: Myspace

Release date 20.04.2009
Rebel Alliance / Asbestos

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