Red or Dead : Trotsky WaltzReleased: 01.01.2018
It is just over a year since Red or Dead's remarkably uplifting and inspiring first EP, No One is Innocent, showcased four acoustic punk songs that each deftly fashioned political anger into rough-hewn but rousing, message driven music. Just a further short single until now, then suddenly a thirteen track debut album drops through the letterbox as the first release to celebrate of the new year.
Early in 2017 we were fired up by the blank, belligerent but artful electric post-punk of Oblong - scuttle forward to 2018 and Trotsky Waltz has the same intensity as that collection, but achieves its compelling impact by sheer force of human will and momentum, not skilful use of electricity.
Red or Dead is a four piece band, Rob Murray and Gala Elvira offer a contrasting twin vocal attack - with Rob also playing guitar and mandolin. Emma Sunerton-Burl beats out the rhythms frenetically on a cajon (sometimes through its increasing ubiquity the devil's own instrument, but perfectly deployed here) and Dave Sunerton-Burl offers low, rumbling bass runs that hold the songs together like metal hoops hold the staves of a barrel. Their collaboration often sounds as if they are performing on an out of control ramshackle go-kart, and want to get through the set before they hit a looming brick wall. Which means Trotsky Waltz is speeding, primitive and exciting - it's as close to immaculate edge-of-town urban folk as you could hope to be.
The individual songs pass in an energised blur - like leaving the last garage before a motorway, the rolling closing refrain of opener I am the Fire - "I am the darkness, I am the night, I will set your world alight" is the last point at which you can hope not to be swept along with irresistible speed and force. Even then it is probably too late. Amongst this aural melee the sheer raw charge of the chorus of Never Again makes it a standout; the outraged, searing impetus of In America another, and the emotive change of pace for the plaintive Steeltown a third.
If you vote for UKIP or the Conservatives and are set fast in your political views, you might want to give the lyrical content a miss; otherwise one listen will have you pacing the room, just wanting to do something. Which is the whole point.
I saw Rob Murray solo do a blunt edged but brilliant version of Highway to Hell last year in a small pub venue - with nothing but the song's bar-room joie de vivre and energy left intact by the end. As Bon Scott originally sang - 'Nobody's gonna slow me d-o-w-n', nor will they Red or Dead, on the way to a political promised land. As for Trotsky Waltz, in totality it is rough-edged, splendid and splenetic; I just love it. Listen & repeat.
Red or Dead are performing a set of dates to mark Trotsky Waltz's release :
08 Jan : Neil Cruds Radio Show In session
20 Jan : The Skerries Bangor with Spam Javelin
27 Jan : Comrades Club Conwy Labour Election Campaign Launch Line up TBC
10 Feb : The Pot Rhyl with Dan Williamson & another TBC...
03 Mar : The Shiloh Cwm Penmachno with Andy Walsh and Colossous
They will be operating food drops to support local foodbanks, who are struggling as they always do this time of year, at all upcoming gigs - lists of supplies needed can be found here.