History Of Guns are a band of somewhat eccentric oddballs who first caught my attention on Godreah Records ‘Contains No Holy Additives’ compilations as well as the label’s Hawkwind Tribute ‘Daze Of The Underground’ where they covered Angels / Magnu. It was evident just from these offering that they were a bit ‘barking’ as well as almost impossible to classify genre wise. This is something that they make a point of saying on their PR releases and they are not boasting but genuinely do not really fit in anywhere plumping for ‘post-industrial’ rather like a blind man walking into the wall in a dark room. I am not sure if I have ever heard a complete album by these mentalists (who took their name from an early song about the Dunblane massacre in case you wondered) but was aware it was probably going to be somewhat baffling and in some respects likely to do my head in. I was spot on the money there too.
We start off on this their fourth album with ‘Kicking Down The Doors’ which does just what it suggests, certainly lyrically with the title being rammed down your throat. It’s a gnarly punk sounding number with nice solid bass lines coursing through it. I am reminded of the sort of band that causes a drunken riot on the Reknaw stage at a free festival at Hackney and it is a bit reminiscent of the likes of 2000 Dirty Squatters. This is one of what I would call the albums proper songs, many of the others on it are nowhere near as well constructed and things go off on at times maddening tangents. Next they go and put things to a disco beat with ‘Friday Night, After Work’ and the song is a DIY sounding muck about with a psychedelic tinge about it which sounds like the by-product of far too many trips. There are lots of tribal sounding beats around and the next song that impressed ‘Who Controls You’ starts out with crusty finesse and with dirty guitar lines rattling through it. I do like the way the band have so much material behind them but sound like they are recording in one session at a squalid falling down studio.
‘Cold Coma’ is probably the best track and goes to show that singer Del Alien has quite a versatile voice that can be matched to suit other singers fairly liberally (unless they keep getting guests in that is). Starting out with a Joy Division sounding bass line this progresses into a gloomy downbeat gothic number with the vocals at full crooning peak striking as somewhat Eldritch (if you get my drift). Unfortunately this is frustratingly followed by the awful ‘These Songs’ with Casio sounding keyboard beat and moronic lyrics. It’s not often I hit the skip button but I cannot listen to this crappy number. Luckily things get better and the vocals go distinctly Rotten (Johnny that is) for the quirky ‘Closing Down The Reality’ Best of all for that singer aping though is ‘Anthem 23 (Follow The Fiend)’. I am not sure if the band are acknowledging their influence for this one but it hit me instantly and I suspect so as the number is pure Alien Sex Fiend and very much in the vein of ‘I Walk The Line’ in particular, complete with Del doing a great impression of Nik Fiend.
So on the whole this is a fairly obtuse listen and at times annoyingly so but the good songs thankfully outweigh the bad. Still a trim of the filler would have done this the world of good. Then again if you like the sound of it, you can download the album for free at the link below so what the hey! Damn it’s twelve and someone’s at the door, toodle pip.
(6.5/10 Pete Woods)