Send More Paramedics - The Awakening

15 songs
40:23 minutes
***** ****
In At The Deep End


Some albums you just want to hate from the start. With an album cover hinting at rawest death metal, I nonetheless felt intrigued by the band name which has been taken from a Night Of The Living Dead movie quote. Upon opening the CD, I noticed there were two discs and that this was anything but just another gory piece of musical garbage. So much about prejudice.

SMP are a zombiecore band that's been around for three albums, and although their looks have been mightily inspired by the Misfits, what we hear on The Awakening is light-years better than anything the zombie punk pioneers released in the last twenty-something years. Rooted in the primitive speedcore of the late Eighties, SMP add a fat production and unexpected hit potential they must have learnt as the opening slot for The Offspring during one of their England tours. And as weird as it may seem, but SMP have not too little in common with the Californian punk superstars, except that there is no hint of commercialism in SMP's music. Already the opener Everything Is Not Under Control is a fierce old school hardcore track which is not only carried by the rather fast instrumentation, but also by a vocalist who seems to be able to do anything but sing, but it's his charismatic voice that gives SMP this certain air of originality. I even feel vaguely reminded of Bomb Disneyland, a British hardcore punk band that was briefly popular many, many years ago.

The Awakening is a concept album, with all the lyrics in the booklet, and for those who can't follow, even a summary of the story. The band sees the whole thing as a movie not yet made (and probably never to be made), and still on the bonus disc you get already the original score, fully orchestrated as stated in the label info. But don't be too excited: this is just spooky keyboard music ok for the B-movie this was supposed to be. So we better get back to the main disc which features some more highlights, like Blood Fever and This Crowd Is Crushing Me. Instead of pushing the speed ahead all the time, SMP are smart enough to add enough moments of tension, just like you would expect from a good horror movie. And all of a sudden you notice that something which didn't seem so original at first turns out to be a strange mixture of The Offspring, Slayer (just listen to The Unclean, sounding a lot like Raining Blood), Bomb Disneyland, early Suicidal Tendencies, The Accüsed and many more.

Although the bonus disc is only a minor curiosity, The Awakening is a solid piece of speedy old school hardcore with enough variation to warrant this high rating. One of the more surprising releases of recent times.

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