Victims – “The Horse and Sparrow Theory” (Relapse Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Well known over 20 years for their mix of Discharge influenced d-beat, Integrity infused hardcore and Motörhead raging rock ‘n’ roll, Victims have returned with their 7th release. Titled after the 1890s name for trickle down economics that if you feed a horse (i.e. rich people) enough oats (i.e. giving them generous tax cuts), some will pass through to the sparrows (i.e. the poor). Whatever the contentions, it’s pretty clear that while these Swedes love dishing out their noise onslaught, the 8 tracks here are no mindless riot, but rather dwell deeply on class division, industrialisation, corruption and their ill effects on today’s world. As such, I feel this makes “The Horse and Sparrow Theory” a truly dark but moving release, both for its foreboding tales and ominous predictions on society but equally backed by a truly fearsome noise barrage! Led by Johan Eriksson’s twanging bass and hoarse vocal shout outs, ‘The Birth Of Tragedy’ angrily roars as the twin guitars of Jon Lindqvist and Gareth Smith slide in their heavy crust riffs, but also snake in some dark melodies to nicely top off the anguish. Increasing the tempo on ‘There’s Blood On The Streets’ into a full on d-beat slam dance, Andy Henriksson’s twacking snare provides the crucial beat while Eriksson goes into full punk roar as the dirty guitars mosh it out themselves, with the occasional chiming melody making it out of the mincer! Far more profound however, is ‘We Fail’ featuring samples from Brigadier General Stephen Cheney from the Swedish Institute of Internal Affairs, UI Podcast episode “The Climate Change and Security – Nexus” that accompanies the melancholic tones led by Eriksson’s bass and his disgusted drawls, really building the slow, apocalyptic atmosphere over the course of 6 1/2 minutes as the crunching guitars add their own bite in angry culmination to this highly charged and equally disturbing affair. As bleak an outlook as it may be, “The Horse and Sparrow Theory” is an uncompromising take on deconstructing the current world socio-economic climate musically.