Album review: ENGLISH DOGS – The Thing With Two Heads

ENGLISH DOGS – The Thing With Two Heads

Candlelight – Out Now.

First formed in October 1981 and performing at the same UK sweaty venues with the likes of GBH & Discharge, Grantham-based Hardcore Punk/Crossover legends English Dogs have experienced numerous member changes over the years.

Most fans, however, would agree that it was the “Forward Into Battle” (1985) line-up, featuring Adie Bailey behind the mike, that’s responsible for the creation some of the most loved material this band has recorded to date.

Well boys and girls, I have good news to report! The core of that very line-up has recently reformed, signed a contract with Candlelight Records and recorded a new studio album entitled “The Thing With Two Heads”.

Recording new material after almost twenty years of absence must have been quite a daunting task for this quintet but the return of guitarist Graham “Gizz” Butt into the fold seems to have provided the band a new sense of purpose, as suggested by the raw energy and up-lifting feel which characterise the eleven compositions on offer.

The guitar riffs are simple and perhaps a tad predictable in structure but filled with high energy while Adie Bailey’s angry-sounding vocals comfortably dominate the proceedings.

As for Andrew “Pinch” Pinching; well, the man who has been drumming for the Punk legends the Damned since 1999 takes every given opportunity to prove why he is one of the most sought-after skin-pounder in the Punk/Hardcore scene.

Based on a highly energetic Punk riff “Turn Away From The Light” opens the album in celebratory fashion and is followed by the melody-driven flamboyant leads of “Freak Boy”. Pinch truly comes alive in the rhythmically varied “Gorgonized” while things take a turn towards a more basic Punk formulae in “Hate Song”.

The listener is presented with more flamboyant leads in “Ghost Note” while the Death Angel inspired riffs of “The ThingWill Arise” are introduced with the assistance of the one minute theme “Up From The Depths”. Filled with sing-along tunes and featuring a sensational bass line, “Planet Of The Living Dead” is the most impressive composition of the album and is followed by the pleasant but fairly generic “Royal Flying Corpse”.

“Rectify” is an interesting combination of rhythmical drum parts and melodic sing-along vocal themes while the nine minute “Down With The Underdogs” closes the album in a rhythmically brave but somewhat confused manner.

If the goal set by the members of English Dogs upon their re-formation was to make their return felt by creating an honest sounding album filled with crunchy riffs, memorable guitar melodies and sing-along band vocal parts then “The Thing With Two Heads” has been quite a successful endeavour indeed.

Though far from described as the most original-sounding of albums, this eleven track release has all it takes to get the quintet back on the musical map and will hopefully generate enough interest to justify and even more impressive follow-up. Good luck lads!

John Stefanis

Rating: ***1/2 (3.5/5.0)

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