THE BRONX V gets 8.5/10

The Bronx
V
White Drugs/Cooking Vinyl

8.5/10

Punk rock certainly isn’t dead, these days it tends to just linger in the shadows, with the other undesirables of mainstream society, venturing out occasionally to let you know it’s still alive.

The latest offering of that venture comes from LA punk rockers The Bronx, who have just dropped their fifth album, aptly named V, which sees vocalist Matt Caughthran, guitarists Joby Ford and Ken Horne, bassist Brad Magers and new drummer David Hidalgo Jr, who replaced Jorma Vik in 2016, unleash another front of punk rock anarchism on the world that we oh-so desperately needed. Stop what you’re doing and listen immediately.

As soon as your ears are introduced to V, they’re meet with an unadulterated reminder of what this band is capable of and why it has maintained a loyal following for the past 15 years and five albums. From album opener, Night Drop at the Glue Factory, through closer, Kingsize, the album is a dose of infectious energy laced with intense instrumentals and sometimes abrasive in your face or otherwise mellodic vocals which will leave you hard pressed to pick a single favourite from the lot.

Although a little more refined than previous albums, V still maintains that raw, in your face, punk vibe they are so well known for, but some of those razor-sharp edges have also been buffed out in places to produce a slightly updated sound which makes for a whole new listening experience. The album itself seems to take on two personas, the fast paced in your face punk rock that defined The Bronx in albums I, II and III, then the more melodic rock style that started to emerge in IV.

Opener, Night Drop at the Glue Factory instantly throws you into the mosh pit in true Bronx style and you’re soon taken over with automatic body movement whether you like it or not. Caughthran’s signature riotous vocals receive centre stage treatment over a backdrop of fast-paced guitar riffs and brutal drum bashing forming a brilliant punk rock intro to the album.

These brutal riffs and in your face vocals continue throughout much the album in Stranger Danger, Fill the Tanks, lead single Sore Throat and Broken Arrow, and give you the dose of riotous punk rock reminiscent of early albums. For the diehard fans of The Bronx’s earlier heavy stuff, Sore Throat is the track for you, of the entire album it probably packs the biggest punch.

Side Effects is one of the more melodic rock songs of the album; something that received mixed reviews on IV but seems to fit nicely on V. With the bellowing chorus positioned nicely over fluctuating riffs the result is a very satisfying track, it’s got a great lively feel to it. The sort that, dare I say it, you could imagine hearing on mainstream radio.

Much like Side Effects, Channel Islands, Two Birds, Past Away, Cordless Kids and Kingsize take on more of a melodic rock tone and have a real uplifting, easy listening vibe to them and are a great example of how the band has evolved since earlier albums, you’ll be moving and singing along to these catchy tracks in no time. The penultimate track of the album, Kingsize, is the perfect track to finish the album and seems to hit all the right spots as a bring-me-down track to close out the album. It brings you down slowly before releasing you back into the world.

By album’s end, you’ll be tired, sore and breathless, as if you were at a live show. Every track on the album is an explosion of energy that is likely to blow your mind live. Like previous albums, V still stands as a fuck you to everything and everyone that’s managed to piss The Bronx off at some stage or another, with vocals soaked in angst towards various political and social issues plaguing the band’s homeland and beyond, something I don’t think we’ll ever lose. “It has the angst and social commentary that has characterised us from the beginning,” guitarist Joby Ford said recently, “only now the angst is aimed at more than just superficial things and the social commentary is directed at more than just people who like different music than us.”

Where previous albums have thrown listeners strait into the mix, V takes a more scenic route – you don’t have to be a punk rock fan to enjoy what V has to offer and the infectious tracks are guaranteed to get you moving. As they have done in the past, The Bronx continue to throw petrol into the fire to fuel the rebellious and anarchistic desires of society.

V is another giant leap for the band and punk rock as a whole. Play it, play it loud, let loose and forget about everything, as Caughthran gracefully infuses into Two Birds: “what happens next? / who fucking cares”.

RYAN ELLIS

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