In 1991, Nirvana shot the video for 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' at GMT Studios in Culver City, California. Costing less than $50,000 to make it would go on win Best New Artist and Best Alternative Group awards at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards and in so doing the sound of Grunge exploded across the World.
Whilst acknowledging the influence of UK punk bands
from a decade previously, the unique sound of Seattle bands defined
the indie music scene of the early 1990's. However, the honeymoon
was short lived and the movement came to a juddering halt courtesy
of a shotgun at
However, not all bands have dispensed with the cross-over sound of heavy punk and metal blended together, although in the case of Cardiff stalwarts GUNG-HO things came about in rather an odd fashion. Having started approximately five ago, when vocalist Konny's old band Festering Nun split up, they were initially a ska band. Whilst having long since moved onto a harder sound, there still remain traces of their formative ears for those who listen hard enough, especially in the guitar playing.
Their original line up stayed together for two to three years, releasing an EP, a live CD and touring extensively. With the sound augmented by present drummer Lewis, they went with a dual back-beat set up that resulted in an earth shattering live sound. However, due to the intervention of Cupids arrows, they subsequently lost both a drummer and guitarist to the charms of Stateside ladies. This resulted in Boris (a previous associate of Lewis in Cardiff punk band Not Since The Accident) being drafted in for bass duties whilst they recorded this album.
Interestingly this is the third time they recorded the album, as the first two version didn't come up to muster and got shelved. To ensure the sound was raw, and as close to their live performances as possible, they recorded the whole thing in three days within most of the tracks being laid down on the first or second take.
Starting with the heavy bass and drums track "Wittle" the number has, to my ears, a touch of the some of those US West Coast hardcore punk bands that sprang up in the early 1980s. Rattling along at a fair old pace, the rasping vocals of Konny brakes through the wall of sound laid down by the rest of the band to give the album a cracking start. Follow up, "On Tow" is again a hook laden slice of punk that I'm sure causes a rumpus in the pit at any of their live gigs.
"Tin Shut" however definitely has more of a grunge feel and brings memories of Kurt & Co flooding back. Suffice to say the distinctive mid-song guitar solo would not be out of place on "Nevermind". Lyrically the track also bears more than a passing resemblance to songs of that era - "I'm here today, I try to stay, I learn to pay, I throw my time day to day, ill stutter seize and rust, turn to stone and gather dust" - but thankfully the mood is rather uplifting, rather than the claustrophobically depressing feel of some parts of the historic Seattle sound.
"Bag of Slugs" continues in the same vein with crashing guitars and anthemic chorus. "Disciplined" is machine gun drumming fast and hardcore to the hilt "Chloroform" reminds me of the Nine Inch Nails/Marilyn Manson/Rob Zombie sound of their earlier years, but still carrying a nod towards the grunge era that spawned those bands.
Anyone expecting an immanent change of direction will be sadly disappointed with the infectious rapid paced punk rock of "Beggarsbluff", although I'm not too sure what the lyrics mean by "I lost my name to a beggar in a cattle market speech...". Fast and furious, it showcases the musical talents of the band. Further hardcore mayhem ensues with "Detective" - caustic vocals, screeching guitars, thunderous bass and all held together by Lewis' regimented but vociferous drumming.
"Hungry One" has more than a touch of early Smash era Offspring about it and that's never a bad thing, whilst the bass intro to "Carcass" initially brings the UK Subs Warhead to mind. However, this songs definitely has more of a grunge feel about it, rather than that of a first wave UK punk band. Once more the distorted guitars, and particularly the vocals that boarder at times on a scream, help deliver an angst ridden slice of Nirvanaesque rock. The album closes out with "Stinkhorn" a high octane punk number and "Nest", showcasing more of their In Utero style grunge.
So a very creditable debut from Glyncoch's finest that bodes well for the future progression and development of the band. I like the way they recorded the tracks quickly and without recourse to multiple takes, retakes, overdubs etc. In so doing they have captured that live sound, which many bands lose in striving for perfection with the constant re-recording of numbers.
Oh, and in case you are pondering over the meaning of the CDs title - an oblique reference to some obscure Italian art movement perhaps?- it actually comes from pissed slurrings of a band confident.