London trio Butcher In The Fog are a many headed beast. Taking elements of hardcore punk and throwing in helpings of head banging thrash with a touch of old fashioned doom metal, there’s something in there for everyone. I caught them live in early 2017 at The Black Heart and they were guaranteed party starters. Having formed in 2010, they’ve had their share of ups and downs after being forced to take a three year break when drummer Alex de la Cour was struck with tendonitis. The band resumed in 2016 with the resulting songs coming together for new release “A Screaming Reflection”.

The opening salvos are a hardcore punk riot. The juddering intro riff to the opening track “Screaming Reflection” feels more like an army helicopter landing inside your head. The hammering delivery brings to mind the onslaught of “The Final Bloodbath” by Discharge with the utterly primal and jagged sounds being a delight. Mid track, an unexpected reflective turn appears with wah drenched guitar slowly building back to the central riff as “Heavy Mental Fxckin’ Psycho” is thrown at you next. The Discharge similarities don’t go unnoticed but it’s hard to resist the DIY grubbiness and energy that’s getting generated. Combining with the likes of “Hells Teeth” with its’ slightly Killing Joke resonance, this is stuff that’s like the soundtrack to a grimy punk night at the local pub; listening to it you can almost smell the sweat and stale bitter as your ears slowly melt off your head. The first half of the album doesn’t really offer up too many variations but the enjoyment factor stays pretty high nonetheless.

The second half’s songs do take a detour though. Slightly longer cuts find the band showing off their doomier side on “Blood And Starlight” and “Venus Flytrap”. The foot is taken off the accelerator as they go in search of some very heavy riffs, especially on the latter. Thick, rubbery bass and sludge overtones show a darker edge and when the pace is picked up it’s hard not to get a little excitable. These two mammoths bookend the sharp Stooges meets Motörhead stab of “Take It All”. There’s rage and scorn aplenty on a track that feels like a custom made set closer.

Butcher In The Fog are pretty hard to resist. While maybe not high in the originality stakes, what they do is bring a ton of energy and addictive tunes. Hopefully a less disruptive future brings more work of this quality.

(7/10 Johnny Zed)