The Good Ship Lollipop

rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. The Good Ship Lollipop
02. Time Line
03. Slack Jaw
04. Pig
05. Clinical
06. Fractured
07. Voices
08. So Sick
09. Flowers Bloom
10. Humble Crow
11. Can't Lose
12. Everything Is Endless
13. Life's Winter

VENOMOUS CONCEPT were always a band designed to start riots, or a fistfight at the very least. The fiendish brainchild of multi-project polymath bassist Shane Embury (NAPALM DEATH) and former BRUTAL TRUTH frontman Kevin Sharp, it began as a chaotic and deranged to balls-out hardcore punk band and continued in that vein for three righteously obnoxious full-length records. The band's fourth, "Politics Versus The Erection", didn't stray far from the punk path, but at least hinted at the big rock revelations found aboard "The Good Ship Lollipop". With CANCER drummer Carl Stokes and NAPALM DEATH's live guitarist John Cooke completing this revamped lineup, VENOMOUS CONCEPT have stepped away from the speed-fueled madness that typified previous records and instead embraced big riffs and driving rhythms. The spirit of gnarly punk still blazes inside every last note of songs like "Time Line" and "Slack Jaw", but this is an album that loves AC/DC, HUSKER DU and THIN LIZZY just as much as it worships POISON IDEA or NEGATIVE APPROACH.

The opening title track just about says it all. Built around some seriously enormous riffs and a massive chorus, it powers along with unashamed rock 'n' roll swagger, shades of TURBONEGRO woven into VENOMOUS CONCEPT's otherwise abrasive fabric. "Clinical" is even more startling: a wiry and wired post-hardcore rush, it showcases Sharp's previously untapped ability to sound like FUGAZI's Guy Picciotto lost in a sandstorm.

Elsewhere, "Fractured" is a revelation, it's an all-out shoegaze anthem, replete with a sprightly krautrock beat and lashings of MY BLOODY VALENTINE-style speaker-to-speaker swooshing. "Voices" sounds like some long lost out-take from a late-period RAMONES album, but with riffs wrenched from Hell's depths. "Flowers Bloom" hedges its bets between skeletal post-punk and drive-time alt-rock, coming up smelling of the RAMONES again. "Everything Is Endless" wields its stop-start riff like a spiked bat, while stomping on Angus Young's foot and demanding a piggyback from Tad Doyle. It all rocks like an absolute bastard and anyone craving a simple, route-one kicking has the likes of "Pig", "So Sick" and "Can't Lose" to scratch that two-minute-assault itch.

At the heart of this surprising and exciting change of tack lies a genuine love for music and the many and varied ways in which it can make you want to drive a truck through a brick wall, with a big shit-eating grin on your face. For fans of straightforward rock 'n' roll thrills and a truly eclectic approach to making a racket, this will be one of this year's most joyous and vital releases.

Author: Dom Lawson
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