Old crustbags never die, it just smells like it. Ah yes Antisect, the original squat the lot Anarcho punks have a hell of a history behind them which stretches right back to 1982 and has somehow resisted and existed and strived to survive through thick and thin, break up’s and a huge revolving cast list. After a long hiatus between 1987 and 2011 the group reformed for a second lease of fetid life but listening to them today you could perhaps if not around the first time be completely mistaken that it is the same band. Musically this is quite a different beast from the early days and the abrasive old dark ages. I had managed to catch the group a few New Year Eve’s ago (2014) playing a free show at The Unicorn in London, memories of the night are not the best but they obviously got things riled up enough for me to fall flat on my ass in the pit; however a kind of new groove had also injected proceedings and that is more than apparent here. Anyway if it’s good enough for Lee Dorrian it’s good enough for me to give the band’s new platter a spin.

Now pretty much a power trio the group consists of founding member Pete Lyons, John Bryson who was there in 84 and relative newcomer Joe Burwood. Things start a bit annoyingly with drawn out sounds of helicopters and police sirens along with a thick chuggy bass line that has me looking out the window and wondering what carnage is unfolding outside. Still I was gearing myself up for an explosion that was gonna take me back to early days of bands such as Flux Of Pink Indians, Conflict, Discharge and Amebix but when Spirit-Level finally kicks into gear I got a groovy sound that borders a bit on stoner and sludge sound. Indeed listening to the album I was getting a bit of groups such as more recent Unsane, Therapy and even as a friend cruelly pointed out Clutch here at times. Yeah it’s not bad, just a bit different than what I had set myself up for. Vocals are craggy and a little too quiet in the mix at times, a bit of Rob The Baron Miller about them and the thick well produced instrumental furrow is certainly strong and beefy.

There’s a bit of a lack of immediacy here and again long drawn out stoner licks pave the way for numbers like ‘The Last One’s Standing’ and at 7 minutes plus things are a bit tedious and likely to have the old brigade scratching their louse ridden heads in confusion. This feels like a film with too much plot exposition, a bit of editing could do with being applied. None so more as on ‘Weapons Of Mass Distraction’ and don’t get me wrong I’m all up for a bit of punk, political polemic but over 4 minutes of ambient throbbing bass and a mumbled speech waffling too quietly to properly even hear is an exercise in futility as far as I’m concerned and totally breaks up any musical impetus. Yawn, get on with it for crusts sake! I hate skipping tracks but honestly, the second hand Ministry riffs once this is finally dispensed with here hardly encourage me not to. They use the siren trick again and chug on regardless through ‘Acolyte’ which at least is suitably angry and more to the point but then the bloody helicopter flies over again as we move into the new dark ages and yep I see what they did there. Luckily this is cold and menacing and forcefully sticks out, much more like it with more of an Amebix and even older Killing Joke feel. Sometimes keeping things simple and hollering out the song title again and again really does work and this and closer ‘Scared To Die’ are the songs here that really do it for me.

So a bit of a frustrating listen, I understand bands grow up and move on but I came to this party expecting Anarchy and cold war crusty distemper and got far too much stylistically of bands I hear all the time, too much padding and just the occasional flash of genius. Drop the stoner and groove licks, everyone’s doing that and make the new age truly sound dark; then I’ll be back!

(6.5/10 Pete Woods)