Album review: LAST OF THE MISFIT HEROES – Hope For The Hopeless

The Last Of the Misfit Heroes - Hope For The Hopeless

Self release [Release date 26.03.21]

South London trio Last Of The Misfit Heroes confidently tap into rock’s pre-corporate ability to channel anger and frustration into socially conscious and meaningful songs with enough intensity and frisson to bottle the excitement.

As the band’s name and album title suggests, this is a project shot through with an ironic perspective. So it comes as no surprise to find that they play their music with plenty of bluster and attitude as they try to make sense of a fast changing world.

The lyrics are thoughtful and hard hitting, while the music is rooted in a post-punk energy spiked by booming riffs with a metal edge, frequently offset by plenty of catchy hooks.

In guitar playing vocalist Steve Catt they have a pivotal figure who injects the songs with vitality, authority and a vocal range reminiscent of The Stranglers era Hugh Cornwall.

Everything is anchored by a sledgehammer rhythm section of Anj Jackman on bass and significant bv’s, and Chris Catt on drums.

It’s all produced by Dan Lucas who has expanded their original EP release to a full blown album by gluing everything together with in-between song audio snippets that bring a sense of forward motion.

And to that end, the opening ‘Creating A Monster’ is a powerful statement of intent, from the wild quasi Frankenstein “It’s alive” outtake, through some tub-thumping rock with a booming hook.

There’s nothing essentially new here, but there’s plenty of muscular rocking, solid song-writing, clever production edits and occasional melodic moments.

‘Misfit Misplaced’ is built on a sludgy shuffle drum track with a contrasting heavy early King Crimson riff, before settling on a metallic drone guitar sound, topped by a purposeful vocal.

Catt further fattens the track with distorted buzz tone guitar and an electronic feel, as the band works up an intense wall of sound that perfectly frames the song’s “misfit” narrator.

‘Pieces’ cleverly juxtaposes thematically doomy lyrics with contrasting  hypnotic staccato buzzing guitar riffs, with additional guitar squalls, harmonics and one of the best vocal on the album.

A preacher style voice snippet leads us into the heavy tom-tom beat and grinding metal riffs of ‘Dead Behind The Eyes’, which benefits from a straight-to- the-vein hook.

Again the band find a real sense of dynamics in a glorious collision of post-punk energy, lyrical vitriol and a U2 wall of sound, full of guitar lines modelled on The Edge.

The band may wear their 70’s and 80’ s influences on their sleeve, but they refreshingly have something original to say about contemporary life, as they move from the micro to the macro, via individual emotions to society at large.

The muddy sounding ‘Pulling Punches!’ is different again, being powered by a rumbling bass, relentless drums and a tension busting “oi” chant. The latter is not too far removed from the early Stranglers, before a stop-time hook punctuates the following intense drone of ‘Demons’.

Things get heavier on ‘When My Empire Falls’ in mix of machine gun drumming and layered guitar. They generate a portentous sound that fits the imagery of the song title well. They teeter on the edge of grandeur, which feels as if it might implode at any moment.

The end of the track creates a tension filled void which they fill with an unexpected Trump style cartoon voice, before we’re into the self explanatory ‘Bombs’, full of more heavy riffs on another song that could have been a Strangler’s outtake.

There’s a suitable change of pace on the dark ‘As The Water Runs’, which delivers an unexpected denouement with an exclamatory finish: “You’re still alive.”

They round things off in exhilarating fashion with the hard rocking single ‘Wake Up Call’, full of a feverish vocal and punchy buzz tone riffs that mirror the song’s title.

Last Of The Misfit Heroes borrow from the past to look to the future. Their music straddles decades, but they rock hard enough and the material is strong enough to forge their on direction. ***½

Review by Pete Feenstra

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