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The Thing With Two Heads

Candlelight (2014)
Rating: 8/10

English Dogs have never really got the credit they deserve, because – believe it or not – they were quite influential for bands such as Darkthrone, who have made a living out of paying homage to this sort of crossover thrash.

Over the years since their 1981 inception, English Dogs has released some important records such as 1987’s Where Legend Began. After a hiatus or two they’ve pretty much taken 2014 by storm, releasing The Thing With Two Heads. These guys have proven to be masters at mixing metal with punk, so it’s no real surprise that this latest beast takes snippets from each era, the result being another anarchic rollercoaster ride into the depths of the insane psyche.

It’s an album that is every bit as speed metal as the next speed metal band, and yet it’s also as every bit punk and brimming with attitude as you’d expect from the gnarliest punk act. It’s an interestingly mix when a band can belch out a sing-a-long chorus with, say, a rollicking speed metal solo, and it’s certainly not a case of churning out the same old formula – far from it – as the likes of the instant ‘Up From The Depths’ stand side by side with the abrasive ‘Planet Of The Living Dead’ and the chugging ‘Turn Away From The Light’.

Adie Bailey is more than adequate when it comes to delivering those venomous spits, and these are complemented by dashing riffs of Gizz Butt who, as usual, allows the record to become fluent and yet spiky in its delivery. Of course, the variety is welcome too and English Dogs always have a few unpredictable aces up their sleeves, namely the infectious ‘Royal Flying Corpse’ and the skull-thudding ‘Hate Song’ – all laced with that recognisable drum wallop of Andrew “Pinch” Pinching. It’s as punk / metal crossover as it gets; somehow sounding so refreshing yet at times containing the same hostility which gave the band their reputation back in the distant 80s.

The album offers 11 superb tracks, culminating in the epic ‘Down With The Underdogs’. In-between, it’s a case of battening down the hatches as the combo lays waste to the stereo with the short sniping ‘Gorgonized’, the equally buoyant ‘Ghost Note’ and the pummelling ‘The Thing Will Arise’. Indeed, the English Dogs family tree is a confusing one to say the least, but this incarnation appears to be the only one that matters and further proof that old punks will never die.

Neil Arnold

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