The Filaments – “Look To The Skies” (Pirates Press Records)
Legendary punx from the UK, The Filaments have been knocking it out since the turn of the century, steadily rising in the UK hardcore scene to eventually play Glastonbury, Rude Boys Unity (Geneva) and Punk ‘n’ Disorderly (Berlin) – and that’s just a few of the hundreds of stages they’ve stormed! Playing a crucial blend of punk, hardcore and ska with influences right from the 70s like Stiff Little Fingers and The Specials to the 80s with Billy Bragg and more recent bands like Rancid, The Filaments also incorporate a trombone, sax and trumpet section into their music, whose range and diversity is matched by the band’s passion and determination over the years. In 2005, lead vocalist Jon Fawkes emigrated to America and The Filaments subsequently disbanded, but upon his return 4 years later, the band have been back to form, gigging and “Look To The Skies”, their first release in many a year. Not evidencing any ring rust whatsoever probably thanks to the endless touring, this is a fine album indeed – possibly even their best ever! True to their reputation, the 11 songs are a mixture of punk, hardcore and ska with a few numbers blended, but all highly catchy, well delivered and with excellent production so don’t be expecting any DIY jobbies here. Opening ferociously with ‘Fuck The Alt Right’, it’s pretty clear than Fawkes musta learned a thing or two from the Dropkick Murphys with their raucous singalong Bostoncore while ‘Rip Off World’ mixes ska with agit rock along with some Caribbean keyboards, not forgetting the hammering UK hardcore of ‘No Men To Parade’ that has the spirit of Cock Sparrer resonating in its stirring shout outs. The horn section earn their money on the upbeat ska tempo of ‘Underdog’ and there are powerful alt / punk pop elements on the energetic ‘Killing Machine’ although the more placid ‘Living In The Crosshairs’ is no less stirring in its emotion. True to their punk roots The Filaments reflect today’s politics and socio economic struggles that any working man or woman can easily identify with, and in true salutation to the thousands of white vans keeping Britain alive, this Essex crew deliver an amazing comeback album like no other.